A quirky, blood-spattered Brit and her friends struggle to survive a zombie uprising? Change the lead character’s name and you’ve got Siobhan of the Dead!
Granted, 2004’s Shaun of the Dead didn’t have much in the way of musical numbers – though it did feature a rockin’ soundtrack. But aside from a Christmastime setting and some well choreographed performances of such original, fourth-wall-breaking songs as “Hollywood Ending,” “Human Voice” and “Give Them a Show,” there isn’t much new about Anna and the Apocalypse. It even finds a way to appropriate Shaun’s cricket bat/cudgel.
Ella Hunt stars as Anna, whose boring high-school life gets shaken up when zombies start attacking. She’s aided in her quest to survive by John (Malcolm Cumming), her long-time bestie who would clearly like to be something more; Chris (Christopher Leveaux), who knows all about the genre; and Steph (Canada’s Sarah Swire), a lesbian American, or fish-out-of-water-from-across-the-pond.
Not helping any is Nick (Ben Wiggins), Anna’s ex-boyfriend, who would still be bullying fellow students if tackling zombies wasn’t more fun; and school administrator Arthur Savage (Paul Kaye), who revels in the chaos as a way of consolidating his power over staff and students alike.
The movie is better in pieces than as a whole – much like zombies in that way, I suppose. Wiggins has a nice number where he sings Soldier at War, about the joys of bashing the walking dead: “No time for weakness when the undead are waiting / So let’s get out there and start decapitating.” And Lisa (Marli Siu) performs a racy yuletide tune in the school’s talent show.
But there’s nothing memorable about the shuffling hordes, and if you take away the music, the whole endeavour would fall flat. Anna goes a long way on the strength of its young cast, and will appeal to those looking for a Christmas/zombie crossover, but it doesn’t make good enough use of its braaains.
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