Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) Explained

An Average Movie-Goer’s Review

Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post

Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) explained poster

I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.

Today we’re looking at the 2017 zombie musical Anna and the Apocalypse

Days before Christmas Anna’s life is turned upside as she and her friends must survive a sudden zombie apocalypse… with music!

Is Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) Scary?

While there is almost no jump scares in the movie, Anna and the Apocalypse doesn’t try to be scary and focuses on the fun musical side of its film. This also being a zombie film, there are some gory scenes of blood and guts but they’re pretty sparse and mainly in the background of shots. Overall you won’t leave Anna and the Apocalypse scared of anything unless you don’t like music.

Plot Synopsis:

The film opens with Anna (played by Ella Hunt) being driven to school by her father Tony (played by Mark Benton) as they give John, Anna’s best friend, (played by Malcolm Cumming) a ride as well. John accidentally reveals that Anna has purchased a plane ticket to Australia which causes her to confess to her very angry father that she plans to travel the world first before going to college.

At the school, we learn Tony is the school’s janitor and that his wife, and Anna’s mom, died recently. Anna and he argue over her decision to travel which Tony calls stupid and references what her mother would think of her which causes Anna to storm off.

Inside we meet another of our main characters Steph (played by Sarah Swire) being reprimanded by the school’s tyrannical headmaster Arthur Savage (played by Paul Kaye). Savage tells her to drop a story she’s writing about the homeless for the school’s paper since he doesn’t want to upset the council.

Savage then demands Steph’s keys because she parked in the school’s parking lot. Is that a thing? Can he just take her keys like that? 

Back with Anna, she stares at a map of Australia and a picture of her mom which leads us to our first song, “Break Away”. The song reflects Anna, John, and Steph’s feeling of wanting something more than what they’re stuck with. 

Anna wants to escape her mundane life and wants to explore. Steph displays imposter syndrome and wants to prove she’s good enough while wanting people to help others. And, John is in love with Anna and is struggling with whether to tell her not to go on her trip.

During the song, we see another character, Nick (played by Ben Wiggins) bully John. We also see Steph in a class where aspiring filmmaker Chris (played by Christopher Leveaux) is told by his teacher that his films need to be “real”, a reflection of what he wants the world to be.

At the end of the song, Anna meets with her friend Lisa (played by Marli Siu) who is getting ready for a Christmas musical performance that night at the school.

As Lisa talks to Anna, Savage is shown to be in charge of the performance and demands everyone get back to work. One of the stagehands accidentally releases a rope that drops a large star that almost knocks into Savage and I’m only mentioning it because there’s no way that doesn’t come back up later.

Later as the students head for lunch, Anna runs into Nick who throws a cupcake at a girl using an inhaler because he’s a dick… and apparently the only bully in the school. We learn that Nick and Anna used to date but broke up for some unspecified reason. 

In the cafeteria, Lisa sits next to Anna as Chris and John arrive and, due to a long prolonged kiss, we learn that Lisa and Chris are a couple. Steph stops by and asks Chris to help her record something at the soup kitchen after school and he promises Lisa he’ll return in time for her performance.

As Steph leaves, Nick, sitting at another table, throws paper balls at her. Seriously, is he the only bully in school? John tells the group he’s going to confront Nick but Anna tells him to stand down and then adds that he wouldn’t be able to do anything anyway… burn. This causes John to realize that Anna doesn’t see him like he wants her to and it leads to our next song “Hollywood Ending”.

The song reflects the misconceptions of love Anna and John are experiencing as well as Chris and Lisa’s perfect love. John sings of realizing he won’t get the girl like a Hollywood ending and Anna sings of not needing the perfect guy. During the song, Chris and Lisa sing about their Hollywood ending-like current love which honestly is not a good sign when there’s a happy couple in a horror movie.

After school, Anna runs into Steph trying to break into her own car because Headmaster Savage Douche still has her keys. Steph accidentally brings up Anna not having a mom and despite her apologies, Anna still walks away. While walking away she bumps into a zombie but doesn’t realize he was one.

the first zombie in 2017's Anna and The Apocalypse
To be fair there was only blood on like 50% of his face

While Anna and John are working at the bowling alley, we see Tony and Dick Savage back at the school where the musical performances are underway. There’s a quick sort of funny song called “The Fish Wrap” but then we move on to Lisa’s performance of “It’s That Time of Year”.

Turns out that this song contains multiple sexual innuendos which piss off Not-So-Randy Savage. Somewhere between the lyrics of “Let me sit upon your lap, there’s only one gift that I wanna unwrap” and “so come on over and unload your sack”, Lisa notices that Chris hasn’t returned from filming with Steph but at least his grandma is there.

During the song, Savage angrily heads out of the booth and goes to yell at Lisa but is distracted by banging coming from an exit door. Opening it, he discovers it’s snowing and whatever was banging is now gone. As he heads back inside, he doesn’t realize one of the doors is still open… DUN DUN DUNNNNN

The next morning Anna wakes up and doesn’t realize her father never returned home. She gets ready and leaves for school never questioning why her dad isn’t giving her a ride. This leads to the next song “Turning My Life Around” where an extremely unobservant Anna and John separately sing about turning their life around. I say unobservant because there are zombies everywhere and neither of them notices.

Anna and John continue singing and meet by a cemetery where they continue to sing and dance. Once they stop a zombie in a snowman outfit chases them to a park where Anna uses a seesaw to decapitate it. The two notice there’s no phone signal and accept that they’re now in a zombie apocalypse. After hearing some explosions they decide to head to the bowling alley. 

At the school, we see that whatever started the zombie apocalypse happened during the performances and everyone who was at the show is still there. Total Savage goes full totalitarian and tries to take charge despite Tony’s wish to go find Anna. This leads to another song, “Which Side Are You On” where Tony and Savage argue about what to do.

By the end, we see most have aligned with Savage and only a few, including Lisa and Chris’s grandma, have aligned with Tony. It’s all for naught as the groups hear the army arrive outside and they order everyone to stay inside.

At the bowling alley, Anna and John arrive to find Steph and Chris hiding out. Steph is able to get online and the group watches a news report showing the zombie virus has devastated the world. This all happened in like 8 hours, making it more ridiculous than in Resident Evil. 

The report suggests that everyone head to designated shelters once the streets are cleared by the army. In their case, they’ll need to head for the school.

That night as the group waits for the army to kill the zombies outside, Anna and Steph discover the zombified cleaner, Mrs. Hinzemann, in a stall. She attacks them but Steph curb stomps her between a toilet bowl and the lid. During the struggle, zombie Mrs. Hinzemann broke a hole in the wall which now allows four more zombies to bust through after she dies.

Steph kills the zombified cleaner in 2017's Anna and The Apocalypse
Fucking hardcore

Anna and Steph run and alert the others. The four successfully kill the zombies using bowling pins, bowling balls, brooms, and a table. A short time later explosions are heard around the town and the power goes out. The group realizes that things are much more dire than they anticipated.

Explosions ring out in the city in 2017's Anna and The Apocalypse
…totally fine

Back at the school, we see that Chris’s grandma is sick as Lisa watches over her. Tony breaks down worried about Anna and we pan over to the bowling alley where a new song, “Human Voice” solemnly starts. The song shares everyone at the bowling alley and the school’s desperation to want to talk to their missing loved ones. Honestly, Sarah Swire playing Steph and Marli Siu as Lisa hav been killing it all movie, especially in their songs.

The next morning the bowling alley group wakes up to discover that the army lost the fight to the zombies and are now zombies themselves. Anna rallies the group despite them feeling hopeless and Chris devises a plan to get past the zombies. The plan is to use the plastic encasing of the ball pit as a barrier. It’s a stupid plan.

Chris has an idea to use the ball pit as a defense against zombies in 2017's Anna and The Apocalypse
No one should listen to Chris anymore

The group gets swarmed by zombies but are saved by Nick and his group of bullies who kill the zombies. We learn that Nick’s dad is in the military and is most likely dead now but we don’t learn more since Nick flips the fuck out the moment he’s mentioned.

A group of zombie cheerleaders show up which leads Nick into the pretty good song, “Soldier at War” where he and three bully friends kill all the zombies. After clearing the zombies, Nick’s group decides to follow Anna’s group in order to protect them.

Nick performs Soldier at War in 2017's Anna and The Apocalypse
Great singer but he’s still a dick though…

At the school, Savage-Loss loses control of the survivors as they have lost hope with the military now dead. he starts to break down mentally as the group tell him they don’t want his leadership. After sitting in a corner, Savage hears some zombies beyond the door and looks on ominously.

Back with Anna/Nick’s group, Chris records the zombies and destruction around the street and Anna makes it clear to John, in a nice way, that John is just her best friend. John takes it well but questions how Anna plans on leaving now that there’s a zombie apocalypse. 

Nick decides to take the group through a Christmas tree store as they can cut through it to get to the school quicker. Despite it being the perfect place for zombies to be hiding out, the group agrees to go through it. Unsurprisingly they’re attacked and all of Nick’s friends are killed but he is unable to kill their zombified versions. 

The groups split up and head toward the door leading to a stock room. Before they can escape Chris drops his phone and is almost bit but saved by Steph. I’m starting to think our main group has super plot armor, over an hour in and none of them have died.

Steph yells at Chris for risking his life over the phone but he essentially says he needs it as he believes everyone he loves is dead. Steph tries to give him hope but he tells her he knows she thinks they’re all dead too. 

The remaining group; Nick, Steph, Chris, John, and Anna all continue on and John tells Anna he remembers the names of all of Santa’s reindeer. Earlier in the movie, they were trying to figure it out. As John recites the names he puts his hands up and is bitten by a zombie. 

Scratch what I said about the plot armor thing.

John is bit in 2017's Anna and The Apocalypse

John’s scream attracts more zombies who stand between them and Nick, Steph, and Chris. Knowing he’s going to die, John sacrifices himself to push Anna to safety. As John is swarmed Nick and Steph pull Anna away. The group continues on but not before Anna kills a fuckload of zombies in a rage.

The group arrives at the school and finds Savage eating a meal at the front desk like there’s not a zombie apocalypse going on. Savage-ly-Strange directs them to the cafeteria where the rest of the survivors are but fails to mention that everyone is a zombie now. Savage locks the group in with the zombies and Chris notes that Lisa, his grandma, and Tony aren’t among the zombified.

From behind a gate, Savage, who has fully lost it, blows a whistle attracting the zombies, and the group runs. This leads to a completely unhinged Savage singing, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now” where he sings about his hatred for the youth.

So it’s pretty clear, Savage lost it and opened the door to the zombie because the survivors didn’t want to listen to him anymore.

Anna is able to open the divider into the kitchen and the group cross over, narrowly avoiding the zombies. The group devises a plan to split up, Anna and Nick will chase after Savage in order to find Tony while Chris and Steph will look for Lisa and get Steph’s keys. I knew that would be a plot point!

While Anna and Nick search they end up arguing over why their relationship ended. Turns out it was more of a one-night stand and Anna felt that Nick just used her. Nick reveals that his dad didn’t leave for the military base and was actually bitten. His dad then forced Nick to kill him with a bat.

Nick breaks down but they’re interrupted when a group of zombies enters. Anna wants to fight together but Nick pushes her away and distracts the zombies forcing them to follow him while he tells Anna to run.

Nick distracts the zombies while Anna runs in 2017's Anna and The Apocalypse
Batter up!

Meanwhile, Chris and Steph find Lisa but discover Chris’s grandma has passed away. The three proceed to Savage’s office to find the keys but find the outer office filled with zombies. Steph safely crawls through the zombies, enters Savage’s office, and begins a search. 

The noise attracts the zombies to the door and Chris and Lisa desperately attempt to find a way to distract the zombies. Chris spots the television across the room and decides to hook up his phone to play the videos he’s been taking of all his friends over the last few days. 

This successfully distracts the zombies and Steph signals to cross over to the other side of the room. The three attempt to crawl to the other side but Chris’s phone beeps, warning of low battery, and turns off the video which causes the zombies to attack them.

Lisa and Chris are bitten as they try to protect each other and Steph kills a zombie but makes it to the other side. Chris is able to turn the video back on which distracts the zombies again. A slowed-down instrumental version of “Hollywood Ending” plays as Chris and Lisa come to terms that they’ll soon be dead. 

Chris waves goodbye to Steph who tearfully waves back. As she leaves, Chris asks Lisa what she thinks of his video and she tells him she loves it.

Anna proceeds alone to the auditorium where Psycho-Savage has Tony tied up on the elevated stage. Below them around a dozen zombies surround the stage. Savage is surprised Anna is still alive and basically dares her to try to save her dad, this leads Anna to start singing “Give Them a Show”.

Anna kills multiple zombies as she and Savage sing/debate their actions. Anna is eventually able to reach the stage and free her dad. Savage then breaks a bottle and he and Tony fight. Tony easily gets the upper hand but decides not to kill Savage for some dumb reason.

As Tony turns to walk away, Savage attempts to strike him with a plank but Anna releases a rope holding the star, allowing it to knock Savage into the zombies below.

Anna knocks Savage into a pit of zombies in 2017's Anna and The Apocalypse
Savage gets savagely eaten by zombies

As Savage is eaten, Tony reveals to Anna that during the struggle one of the zombies bit him. Nick arrives and Tony tells Anna to leave and live her life. Anna refuses but Tony says not to argue and references her mom but this time essentially says she would be proud of her. 

Nick and Anna leave but are surrounded outside by multiple zombies which leads her and Tony to sing “I Will Believe”. The song reflects their feelings of hope in a situation that seems lost. As Tony dies and the zombies get closer to Nick and Anna, Nick apologizes to her. Snow starts to fall and Steph arrives just in time.

Steph saves the day in 2017's Anna and The Apocalypse
Couldn’t have run over a few zombies?

The film ends with the three survivors tearfully driving off and Steph asking where to go next. Anna gives a look of determination and roll credits! In a post-credits scene, the car drives out of town and we get a jump scare of a zombie Santa yelling at the screen.


Anna and the Apocalypse is great. The story is great, the music is catchy and fun, the acting is pretty good, and the character’s actions make sense. There is a huge caveat here, if you don’t like musicals you might not like this one because there is a suspension of disbelief that are inherent with musicals that some people might not like.

During songs, things relevant to the plot happen that if the song wasn’t being performed it wouldn’t have made sense at all. For example, when Anna is singing Turing My Life Around, there is very clearly a zombie apocalypse going on in front of her but she ignores it because she’s singing. The same thing goes for not realizing her father isn’t home.

If you can ignore this because it’s a staple in a musical (especially comedies), the character arcs of most of the characters are well told and displayed through music and dialogue. Anna is affected by her mother’s death and wants to travel to experience something new, something typical when someone is going through grief.

In the end, she is forced to do this but only after realizing how important her father is to her. John realizes and comes to terms with Anna not loving him. Tony sees his daughter all grown up and believes she’ll be okay out in the world and Steph proves herself as important by saving Nick and Anna.

Unfortunately, we don’t see the same level of character arc for other characters, specifically Nick. For Chris and Lisa, they didn’t really have an arc besides Chris wanting to be a better filmmaker. Sure Lisa says she loves it at the end but she would have said that regardless so it doesn’t feel earned. But for Nick, he ends up being one of our final survivors and while there’s a quick moment of him distracting the zombies, he was a huge dick for most of the movie so again, it doesn’t feel earned.

Despite this being a horror comedy musical, I would more likely define it as a light-hearted zombie drama with bits of comedy thrown in. There are some funny moments and some background jokes but overall it’s more fun than funny.

Overall I highly recommend Anna and the Apocalypse but only if you like musicals or even tolerate them. If you have an irrational hatred for musicals, chances are you might hate this.


Stuff to Ignore

Rotten Tomatoes – 77%

Metacritic – 63

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