The zombie Christmas musical “Anna and the Apocalypse” tries too hard to do too much, but this multigenre hybrid has more than enough good cheer to get viewers through another holiday season on this troubled planet.
Set in a small Scottish town a few days before Christmas, the movie tells the coming-of-age story of Anna (English actress Ella Hunt), a popular high school senior who plans to take a year off after graduation to travel. Her overprotective father (Mark Benton) worries about those plans, imagining something out of the “Taken” movies. But when a virus breaks out in the middle of the school’s Christmas pageant — which Anna describes as looking like “Narnia threw up over Oz” — turning its victims into zombies, it appears that Dad has grossly underestimated the world’s dangers.
You’ve probably seen all the movie’s tropes before. The stable of classmates is straight out of a John Hughes movie, including a nerd (Malcolm Cumming) who is in love with Anna, the jock she once dated (Ben Wiggins) and a smart-alecky lesbian (Sarah Swire). As with any zombie movie, some of Anna’s friends will have to sacrifice themselves so others can survive. And as with “High School Musical” — an obvious touchstone — there will be big production numbers (featuring songs by Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly).
What you haven’t seen before is all of these ingredients squished together in the same sandwich. You may be surprised to find that the dance routines have the most flavor, especially “Hollywood Ending,” in which a cafeteria full of singing teens lament that the cheery plots of popular entertainment have left them ill prepared for the real world.