ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE – Because Zombie Christmas Musical Needs to be a Genre

Who would have known that the world needs a Zombie Apocalypse Christmas Musical to enjoy for the holiday season? Well we get a new cross genre movie in ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE, whether we need it or not. This odd, but not doubt fun, film is out now from the folks at Icon Film Distribution. It is rated MA15+ and runs for 109mins. Enjoy Kernel John’s thoughts on this Christmas movie. Ho ho ho……………Salty.


It has the heartfelt musical whimsy (a word that honestly does not get enough use in my opinion) of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, the comedic high school nature of MEAN GIRLS, and the undead shenanigans of SHAUN OF THE DEAD. What could possibly go wrong? Many things, apparently. Many, many things.

Directed by John McPhail (trying really hard not to find a link between his surname and the quality of this movie), ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE is a comedy-horror-musical set a few days out from Christmas, and follows the decidedly resilient Anna (Ella Hunt – Ellie Marsden of television series COLD FEET) through her last days of high school as the world succumbs to the horrors of zombie hordes. Can our heroine and her friends sing and dance their way out of certain death to reunite with their loved ones? Does the cutthroat world of high school politics prepare the youth of today for an undead apocalypse? Will Christmas lunch be ruined forever? You will have to watch the film to find out!


Anna and the Apocalypse Ella Hunt image
Ella Hunt


Conga Line

High school senior Anna, and her friends, are staring down the final days of the school year before graduation and freedom. With Christmas only a few days away, everyone is looking forward to the holidays and a chance to unwind. The aptly named Principal Savage (Paul Kaye – Thoros of Myr of television series GAME OF THRONES) is enjoying being a pain in the sides of his students, getting in those last few power trips before the year’s close. And a completely not suspicious ‘flu’ is spreading across the globe, hampering all efforts at a cure.

When Anna wakes up one morning to find the living outnumbered by the dead, she rushes with her friends to the bowling alley where she works. News reaches the group that their school has been designated a safe zone, owing to its ridiculously plot convenient location being RIGHT NEXT TO A MILITARY BASE. The group decide to sing away the hilariously perilous journey to the school, hoping to find other friends and family that may have taken refuge there.

But not everything is as it seems at the school. Principal Savage, ever the stickler for detail and control is not comfortable with the notion of a world gone to chaos, nor with a rowdy bunch of frightened children and faculty under his command. If things do not start to improve soon, Savage might just snap…


Anna and the Apocalypse Marli Siu and the Santa Dancers image
Marli Siu and the Santa Dancers



Hunt is fabulous, playing a teenager in charge of her destiny with the unwavering certainty that fuels that age group. She is the quintessential strong female lead, who takes charge when the brain matter hits the fan, but maintains enough vulnerability to feel the losses when the body count starts to climb. Kaye’s Principal Savage is truly remarkable, a wonderful piece of acting that occasionally sent awkward spasms down my spine with drudged up memories of my own time at school.

The other cast members are fairly average though and do little to energise a plot struggling for direction at times. These supporting characters have their own stories, though they are lightly fleshed out and often unresolved. Like the one about Steph, the lesbian high schooler writing an editorial on the community’s failings for the school paper, who volunteers down at the soup kitchen, with a girlfriend that does not want to spend Christmas together, and whose parents had left her for the holidays to go party in Mexico. Bet you want to know how that curious combination of bright-eyed hopefulness and gut wrenching sorrow pans out? WELL TOUGH, BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT, RHYMING WITH ‘KITCHEN’ IS HARD (bitchen’(?), lichen) SO RESOLVING HER ISSUES THROUGH THE MAGIC OF SONG IS OUT. Also, zombies.


Anna and the Apocalypse Malcolm Cumming and Ella Hunt image
Malcolm Cumming and Ella Hunt


And the band plays on

For a musical film, the songs in ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE were really hit and miss for me. A truly memorable ditty about a ‘Hollywood Dream’ was soon followed by a seventeen year old’s horribly base, double entendre ridden rendition of the various sex acts she hoped to perform on Santa. Do not get me wrong, it was a wonderfully filthy song in all the right ways, which made me smile in a manner that would doubtlessly get me quickly escorted from a family friendly park. But mid chorus I was suddenly reminded of the fact that this was a HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT crooning about what she wanted to do with her mouth and then I felt very, very, very bad. Not bad enough to stop me rewinding the film to listen again mind you, but still, bad enough, you know, to mark it down as a negative for this movie.

The rest of the tunes are reasonably average, with some of them feeling really out of place and a mismatch for the environment or theme they were trying to express. The one real standout for me however was Savage’s fantastic meltdown performance where he beautifully channelled his inner Frank N. Furter from THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW to express his state of mind. I re-watched that song even more times than the previously mentioned one with the horny teen who was REALLY happy to be sitting in Santa’s lap.


Anna and the Apocalypse Ben Wiggins image
Ben Wiggins



I had high hopes for this film when I saw its trailer. Everyone likes zombies and comedy and musicals (well, I do), but sadly, this film fell flat on all those areas. The songs were inconsistent, the comedy a tad strained, and the zombies pointlessly weak. In one scene, our surviving heroes look on at the horde surrounding them, trapped in a carpark with seemingly no way of escape, thinking on their actions for FIVE MINUTES while the zombies shuffle towards them with glacial speed. The survivors could literally have just walked past them unscathed.

Check out ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE if you like any of the above genres, but only if you enjoy them to a lukewarm level. Despite some fantastic kill scenes, such as death by bowling ball, death by playground seesaw, and death by oversized novelty candy cane, expect too much from this film and you may end up disappointed.





A lifelong lover of the silver screen, Kernel John strives to engage and entertain his audience through the shameless use of humour in his reviews, even when it probably isn’t warranted. When not musing for Salty, you can often find John bouncing between his extreme states of either puppy watching down by the beach, or reflecting on the deepest mysteries of the Universe.

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.