Anna and the Apocalypse is a film which was released in UK cinemas just before Xmas 2018, with the DVD in April 2019. For some unknown reason, like Upgrade, it’s taken some time for a Blu-ray to get released, but thankfully, the wait has been worth it as it has a ton of extras.
Now, I love a good zombie movie (less so for a TV series as they just ramble on), but I’m not a big fan of musicals, so how will this fare? It’s certainly different, so it’s got to be worth a try for that alone. Plus, you can settle the age-old debate about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie… because Anna and the Apocalypse is!
Given the number of different aspects to discuss about the film, I’ll go into them one by one.
Firstly, schoolgirl Anna (Ella Hunt, above) drops the bombshell to her Dad (Mark Benton) that she’s not going to Uni… she’s going to take time out to travel, first. However, he can’t help but be overprotective because at some point earlier in her life, her mother (and his wife) has died.
Amongst the cast, the film has unrequited love in it as John (Malcolm Cumming) fancies the pants off Anna, but will he be able to win her heart, or forever be friend-zoned? Meanwhile, Paul Kaye is great as demonic headmaster-to-be Arthur Savage, once the job becomes his in the New Year. Knowing there’s the impending zombie apocalypse, I was hoping he’d be the first to get bitten. Was I right? You’ll have to watch and find out.
The main theme – Turning My Life Around (performed by Hunt and Cumming) – is sung while a zombie apocalypse plays out behind them, and who hasn’t imagined the song they’re hearing isn’t accompanying them by having 100 dancers behind them? However, I’d rather imagine that on the way HOME from work, not going TO it. That scene is a definite highlight of the film.
There’s occasional neat practical special effects, as opposed to always relying on CGI like most Hollywood movies, such as when one zombie is smacked on both sides of his head and BOOM! Blood comes out. Plus, occasional laugh out loud moments, such as when they all head out in a particular disguise, and an old woman sits down and… ewwww!
At almost two hours, yes, I did choose to watch the Extended version, but it does rather go on a bit. However, it does have the energy of an old-school ’70s musical such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Oddly, the extended version is put on disc 2, rather than on the first disc with seamless branching. However, the second disc is has a feature-length ‘making of’.
At one moment, there’s a couple of students in penguin costumes, barked at by Savage, as they’re not where they’re meant to be. I wonder if this was a reference back to Grosse Pointe Blank where there’s a kid in the same costume, who’s forever being redirected?
Also, there’s a mid-credits scene, after the main set of credits, where…
Finally, The film is dedicated to co-writer Ryan McHenry, who sadly passed away from cancer at the age of 27, and who was the original creator of this film.
The menu for disc 1 features a short piece of the theme – What A Time To Be Alive – sung by the cast, which is only played once, along with a still of the cast (from the cover) with animated snow in the background. Disc 2 is the same, except that the song is sung by Ryan Joseph Burns.
For a new movie, you’d expect a top-notch picture and that’s what you get, and there’s a nice stack of extras as follows:
- Behind the Scenes (24:25): Cast and crew interviews mixed with clips from the film, and how it spawned from the short movie which I’ll get to later.
- Original Opening Concept (1:58): People dancing in the street around a drunken Santa, which was the original concept for the opening, and could’ve been their “La La Land”, but the weather was against them, and it was cut from the final film. Thankfully, we get to see a lot of it here.
- Deleted Scene (2:30): Steph and Anna chat in the school bathroom, mid-apocalypse. It’s not one that has to go back in.
- Deleted Song (3:04): An early song between Anna and her Dad.
- “Hollywood Ending” – Cast and Crew lip dub (4:07): The cast and crew lip-sync to the film behind the scenes. There’s spilers about the fate of at least one character in this, so make sure you watch it AFTER the film!
- Edbinburgh Film Festival footage (5:53): Promoting the movie at the festival, singing both inside and outside.
- Outtakes/Gaga Reel (2:48): Does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Audio commentary: from director John McPhail, screenwriter Alan McDonald, and composers Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly.
- The Making of Anna And The Apocalypse (1:24:49): The first of two extras on disc 2, producer Naysun Alae-Carew introduces this ‘making of’ with the news that the movie was first made as a short film.
It goes into detail with turning that into the full movie, plus the cast, songs, editing, and additional scenes which were made once the movie had completed the bulk of filming. There’s also a discussion about turning it into a Broadway musical…
Given how musicals are bigger than ever these days, I could well believe it would happen.
This extra has 12 chapters, so, as many as the movie.
- Zombie Musical (18:37): And this is the aforementioned short film, which won a BAFTA New Talent award.
I just received the review disc to check out the film and extras – and so that’s all I can include in my Extras score, but when you buy the boxset, it includes a limited o-ring slipcover and lyrics booklet on initial pressing only.
Running time: 98 / 109 minutes
Distributor: Second Sight
Released: December 2nd 2019
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD-MA
Subtitles: English SDH
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (3.4K), Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: John McPhail
Producers: Naysun Alae-Carew, Nicholas Crum, Tracy Jarvis
Screenplay: Alan McDonald, Ryan McHenry
Music: Roddy Hart, Tommy Reilly
Anna Shepherd: Ella Hunt
John: Malcolm Cumming
Steph North: Sarah Swire
Chris Wise: Christopher Leveaux
Lisa: Marli Siu
Nick: Ben Wiggins
Tony Shepherd: Mark Benton
Arthur Savage: Paul Kaye
Graham: Sean Connor
Tibbsy: John Winchester
Jake: Euan Bennet
Katie: Ella Jarvis
Penguin Student 1: Myfanwy Morgan
Penguin Student 2: John McGeachie
Mrs. Hinzmann: Janet Lawson
Bea: Ruth McGhie
Ms. Wright: Kirsty Strain
Herself: Jackie Bird
Zombie Santa: Calum Cormack
Snowman: Callum Johnstone
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.