Sometimes a film comes along that feels like it was made for you, and Anna And The Apocalypse is one of them. It’s a comedy horror which is one of my favourite genres, but even more than that it’s a musical, and I bloody love them. Or at least the daft, silly, alternative musicals, anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber (bar Jesus Christ Superstar) is the stuff of nightmares, but those that don’t take themselves too seriously are likely to be a film I fall madly in love with, and fall in love with Anna and the Apocalypse I did.
The story sees Anna (Ella Hunt) about to do her A-levels, but she’s planning to go travelling before university, much to the horror of her father (the always fantastic Mark Benton). She’s friends with Lisa (Marli Siu), Chris (Christopher Leveaux) and John (Malcolm Cumming), while college journalist Steph (Sarah Swire) also plays a large role in proceedings after she asks for John’s help to take down Mr Savage (Paul Kaye), the bastard headmaster of the school who’s so over the top that you know you’re going to enjoy his eventual comeuppance. It introduces all of the main characters effortlessly within ten minutes and though it’s not until we’re twenty six minutes in when blood first spurts across the screen it’s so well written and enjoyable that for once that’s not a problem, and the way the apocalypse is introduced is truly joyful. And those aren’t words you can often say.
For once it’s a film where the characters know what zombies are, and though there’s some understandable initial disbelief from Anna she soon gets on board with the madness and does her very best to survive it. The film is constantly inventive, smart, avoids the obvious tropes of the genre, has some great satire of social media and funny dialogue in general, and the songs, well they’re just swell. Which is an understatement, at worst some are just pretty great, and at best they’re the kind of songs you’ll find yourself singing for years to come. The Christmas setting is used beautifully and in extremely clever ways, making this a unique entry in to the genre, and you’ll see things here that will leave you laughing for a long old time.
The kills are imaginative (the bowling alley ones especially), as mentioned in the One Cut Of The Dead review I’ve seen a hell of a lot of comedy horror films so it takes a lot to impress me, but this impressed me an almost crazy amount of times. Unlike some films (and yes Frozen and La La Land, I’m looking at you) it doesn’t forget it’s a musical, and like the best zombie films it’s brutal stuff, with cast members you presume will survive not making it to the end. All of the cast are shockingly good, Ella Hunt makes for a superb lead and has a stunning voice, Malcolm Cumming is incredibly sympathetic as her best friend John, Ben Wiggins is great as the flawed and occasionally twattish object of her affections Nick, and Marli Siu makes for not only a caring and considerate best friend but has a beautiful singing voice as well. Mark Benton is also on top form (and my only complaint is that he’s not in it enough), Sarah Swire’s a dynamic and likeable supporting lead and Christopher Leveaux is bloody good too, while Paul Kaye is astonishingly fun as the big bad you’ll love to hate, and his musical outbursts are the highlight of a pretty damn amazing collection of songs.
It’s a film I know I’m going to watch again and again, and the soundtrack cd has already been ordered and the day it arrives my partner will be driven mad by my badly sung versions of the songs. This is one of the best British films in years, and though this will cause people to think I’ve gone mad, for me it’s actually better than Shaun of the Dead. And if you need any more encouragement to watch it than that, well, I don’t know what to say, but if you don’t see it you’ll miss out on a quite frankly superb and truly lovable piece of cinema.