Updated: Dec 11, 2018
After watching Rare Exports last weekend, I was in the mood for another offbeat Holiday movie, and Anna and the Apocalypse—a Christmas musical about the undead invading a sleepy Scottish community—seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, in execution, the film never quite lives up to its promising premise. Sure, it features impressive gore effects and creative kills galore (our heroes bludgeon zombies with baseball bats, bowling balls, spatulas, watermelons, PS4 controllers, and candy cane lawn ornaments), but the story is far too earnest to suit its subject matter; while the characterization and family drama that motivate the plot are genuinely moving, they fail to provide the sort of tonal contrast that a more overtly tongue-in-cheek approach might have achieved. And although the songs are undeniably catchy, they honestly feel like an afterthought, coming off as impromptu pop music videos rather than an organic and necessary component of the narrative (we’re never treated to anything as novel as a heartfelt love ballad being interrupted by a sudden disembowelment, for example).
The cast, at least, has fun with the material—especially Paul Kaye as the tyrannical Headmaster Savage, who is delighted that his unruly students finally lack free will, and are thus unable to defy him. At the end of the day, however, Anna and the Apocalypse simply isn’t the genre mashup I was hoping for. It’s got plenty of delicious ingredients, but when they’re thrown together so haphazardly, the result is a bit of a cinematic mess—perfectly enjoyable in the moment... but ultimately forgettable.