Anna and the Apocalypse (DIR. John McPhail)
Another day, another multi-hyphenated genre film.
Anna and the Apocalypse fits so many genres into its premise that it borders on absurdity. And yet, this new teen-zombie-horror-comedy-Christmas-musical (with hints of tragedy) surprisingly works. It has heart, guts, and brains. It is also genuine, bold, and smart. It is silly, for sure, but it embraces that silliness and, by the end, it justifies its own existence.
Anna and the Apocalypse follows Anna, a young high school student getting ready to graduate and start her life, all on the cusp of what turns out to be a zombie apocalypse. What allows this film to thrive the way it does is the fact that the more genres you add to a narrative, the more generic conventions you have to pick and choose from. So, Anna will have a fight with her protective dad while her friends get ready for the obligatory Christmas play and question a new flu that’s spreading. There are also plenty of problematic tropes that the film occasionally seems to embrace, but that is just a hazard that comes with working with parody and pastiche.
As for the technical elements, the film is a whole lot of fun, with catchy songs, amazing fighting, dancing choreography, a fantastic sense of humour and a healthy helping of blood (especially for a film that’s received the Canadian 14A rating). It takes a while for Anna and the Apocalypse to get going, early on seeming like it was doomed to failure, but a happy musical sequence set in the foreground of zombie carnage and mayhem towards the end of the first act ensured the audience that this would be one to remember. This film ultimately hits all the notes – both musically and narratively – just well enough.
If you are looking for a Christmas film this holiday season, this will fit. If you are looking for a horror comedy, this will fit. If you are looking for…well, you get it.
Anna and the Apocalypse opens in theatres on Friday, December 7.
For more information on the festival, visit the official Toronto After Dark website.
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