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MOVIES: Anna and the Apocalypse - Review: "The Ultimate Zombie Musical Christmas Hit"

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If you thought the zombie genre was becoming stale then along comes Anna and the Apocalypse to reinvent it, emerging as a brand new voice in the genre thanks to its combining of horror elements with the musical. From the get go it's clear that this film is going to be fun and exciting, and it delivers on its premise in the best of ways, providing a catchy soundtrack to go with a compelling storyline that keeps audiences entertained throughout the film in what turns out to be one of the best surprises of the year.

Directed by John McPhail, Anna and the Apocalypse makes the most out of its tight budget. It's a coming of age movie that introduces us to Ella Hunt's Anna, who wants nothing more than to escape her life in Little Haven by going to Australia on a gap year. Her father is less than pleased when her best friend Dave accidentally breaks the news to him before she can tell him in person in one the movie's awkward opening scene. But before they can have a proper conversation, a zombie outbreak ravages the town, putting student and staff against zombies in a battle against survival.

Anna and the Apocalypse is a delightful, crowd-pleasing zombie experience that drew plenty of laughs at multiple occasions at the screening I attended. The film itself has echoes of Shaun of the Dead but goes about it in its own style, crafting its own voice. The songs are catchy and easy to sing along to - with the highlight being Hollywood Ending, a musical number that warns audiences that the film is probably not going to have the same ending as most films, just like life itself. Both Hunt and Cumming share an excellent number Turning my Life Around as they dance through the beginning of a zombie apocalypse, completely unaware of what's going on whilst people wrestle against the undead behind them. Another standout is Human Voice, the next song, played in one of the film's more emotional moments when the group are hiding out in a bowling alley where they work.

The cast is talented and work together exceptionally well, and really make you care for their characters. Hunt and Cumming both play believable friends, and everyone nails the musical numbers. Marli Siu, Ben Wiggins and Paul Kaye get their own individual songs (It's That Time of Year, Soldier at War and Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now) and Kaye is clearly having lots of fun as the controlling school Headmaster who takes his job a little too seriously. There's good arcs for both Wiggins, who plays the bully Nick, and Sarah Swire, a blunt reporter named Steph having troubles with both her absent parents and her girlfriend, facing the prospect of spending Christmas alone.

The pacing of the movie is spot-on and the film avoids becoming a mess that it could have been, making use of the setting at Christmas to help turn this film into what deserves to be a staple viewing in the holiday season. Multiple genres are blended together effortlessly and to great effect, making sure that there is something for everyone. It's destined to be a cult classic, emerging as a real success that should be seen on the big screen.

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