Just when I think a genre is dead, done and possibly gone, comes another movie that gives a nice little delightful spin on it, giving a few more steady miles out of a car that has been sputtering on fumes for years. In this case, its the zombie film. During the time where Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil franchise was beating a dead horse with sequel upon sequel of tiresome zombie antics, Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead brought life back into the genre for a brief time, so did Shaun of the Dead, and so did AMC’s The Walking Dead and so on. The Walking Dead’s ratings have been slumping pretty bad these past couple of years, showing that maybe this way overdone set up has finally hit its peak (I missed the entire last season and haven’t watched any of this season, so I’m feeling the fatigue too. Now, while ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE didn’t pour a whole tank of gas into the genre car, it actually had me invested enough where I actually cared about some of its characters, looking forward to each step of the journey, and cared about the quality of songs.
Oh shit, that’s right, I forgot to mention HOW this movie reinvigorates the genre a little bit. This is actually a zombie Christmas musical. If you look really, really hard into this, its almost a complete re make of Shaun of the Dead, but with different characters and motivations, songs replacing Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg dialogue, and a school replacing the Winchester. Don’t worry, it’s not a total rip off, just some pretty noticeable similarities. They both play off the zombie genre to interesting results, and they both become semi-serious near the end of their run times. I am trying to do research on this movie, mainly trying to uncover how much this movie cost to make. Because during the whole thing, you can tell this was made on a next to nothing budget, and what is impressive about the whole thing is how much it works without any kind of money. Basically, the less it cost to make this thing, the more impressed I’m going to be when I find out.
But what clinches this movie in being the light delight that it is the songs themselves. The songs are 100% completely original, and two of them, Hollywood Ending and Soldier of War are so damn catchy they are still in my head a day later after viewing the movie. And you know my rule, not only one thing can make a movie, its got to be a combination of things. Thankfully, the songs aren’t the only things that work in the films favor. The movie has actual character development, and the movie does have a couple of minor shock/twists, where I didn’t see a couple of deaths coming where I actually got me a little sad we wouldn’t be seeing that character the rest of the movie anymore. Also in doing my research the cast actually sang the songs, it was a bit difficult because you can obviously tell in the movie that the songs were added post production and the actors are lip synching while dodging and diving zombies, but with the fact that they didn’t use other people’s voices I have to give them credit for. I do wish though that there was a zombie tale where a real human being didn’t end up being the tale’s ultimate bad guy/girl. Can’t just the threat of zombies be enough? (Now that I think about it, there wasn’t really an ultimate bad human in Shaun of the Dead, was there?) Thankfully though the bad guy/girl here plays it nice and just the right amount of over the top to be a little memorable, even if his/her evil song feels rushed and not quite so catchy.
The main star of the movie is obviously Anna played by Ella Hunt, who I haven’t seen in anything before this. She’s quite good, and I can see her going places if she picks the right projects in the future (this was definitely a good pick). Actually, all the acting all around is good. The only real complaint I have is that I wish this movie had quite a bigger budget going into production, because most of the zombie kills are extremely lacking, using fake blood CGI splurts and some of the hits happening off screen or away from the camera. And I understand you can only do so much with a next to nothing budget, so my complaint really isn’t warranted, especially when the make up to the zombies was actually better than it had any right to be. Imagine a movie like this with a $100 million budget. It could go to more locations, the song and dance numbers would be more epic and grand, maybe even making the story a little better than just being separated from parents and/or other friends and trying to get from location A to location B. But like I said, that isn’t the movies fault. I give credit where credit is due. They had a simple zombie story, turned it into a musical, and spent every penny of what they had with what they could afford. The films emotional beats worked, and when the movie went dark, it went dark. It is a crisp 92 minutes and doesn’t overstay its welcome. I’m glad that everyone in making this film ended up getting this a theatrical distribution, but I have a feeling it might’ve played a lot better if Netflix would’ve bought and premiered it on its streaming service, or if it premiered on another streaming service or went straight to VOD. There was only 5 other people in this large theater I was in and kind of felt sad for the movie. But after watching the two hour $150 million dollar shit fest that was Bumblebee, something simpler was just what I needed. I have a feeling this movie will catch on and become a cult classic in later years. It just needs time for people to discover it.