“Anna and the Apocalypse” Makes Merry at NYCC

anna-and-the-apocalypse-Ella Hunt stars in Orion Pictures ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE_rgbAfter getting to see several huge panels in Madison Square Garden at this year’s New York Comic-Con, I opted to end my Saturday by heading back to the Javits Center and sitting in on a smaller one.  Not small small, just smaller.   Plus, the words “zombie Christmas musical” somehow just felt right and that’s exactly what “Anna and the Apocalypse” is – a zombie Christmas musical.

Who doesn’t want that?  It feels like the appropriate next evolution of the present zombie craze. And, it exists.  It really and truly does.  We got to see all about it, or some about it anyway, including hearing two songs from the movie, and they are just as off the wall wacky as you want them to be… well, they are when placed into the movie.

I can’t say only having heard them with the visuals how they would be separate, but during the panel one of the men behind the music, Roddy Hart, said it was their goal (he worked with Tommy Reilly on the project) to have the songs still work when removed from the film.  The example offered up was Randy Newman’s “Toy Story” work.

We got the first song early in the panel and, perhaps not coincidentally, it’s from a moment early in the movie.  What we saw was relatively surreal – there was Anna (Ella Hunt), merrily singing and blissfully unaware of the zombie carnage all around her.  Then there was John (Malcolm Cumming) also singing, also unaware.  Then they met and saw each other and realizations about what was happening slowly started to dawn on them.  Zombie. Christmas.  Musical.

When the panel got to talking we heard from Hunt; Cumming; their fellow actors, Sarah Swire (who also did the choreography), Chris Leveaux, Marli Siu, and Ben Wiggins; plus the aforementioned Reilly and Hart; and director John McPhail.

The audience was told that this wasn’t simply a zombie Christmas musical, it was also a coming of age story.  It is, in short, a lot of things.

A lot of weird things. A lot of things you might not think would go together, but from the two scenes that were played, very well might.

Even the folks on the dais thought, initially, that it might not be their thing.  When Hart first heard about it, he wasn’t sure he wanted in. He then called Reilly, and Reilly immediately wanted to be a part of it.

Clearly I am not the only one for whom the whole idea clicked.  There will be folks who won’t go with it, but if the movie can sustain the humor and blood and music we saw on screen today, that group might be awfully small.

Even some things said during the panel seem implausible.  Chief amongst these was when Hunt claimed to be clumsy.  She could do a high kick she said, but on the whole she was pretty clumsy. That just didn’t sound right for an actress doing a musical requiring dance.  I didn’t put much stock into it at first, but I did later when Wiggins backed up the claim with a story and, at one point gesturing during the story, Hunt nearly hit McPhail.  It was impressive.

I may sound like a broken record writing this in every article this year about New York Comic-Con (I’ve planned my schedule including lots of things which interest me), but I’m going to say it again – I was insanely intrigued by everything I saw during the panel for “Anna and the Apocalypse” and beyond a shadow of a doubt, I’m going to be seeking the movie out this Christmas season.  If zombies or musicals or Christmas is your thing you might do well to check it out, too.

Can it work as well as it seems to in the clips we saw?  Now that would be a great Christmas gift.

“Anna and the Apocalypse” opens in theaters November 30, 2018.


photo credit:  Orion Pictures



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