Not to be undone by its own recent internal misgivings, Fantastic Fest is embracing its week-long run starting tomorrow with its usual diverse, wacky, bizzare and enthralling line-up of great titles from around the world. Jon McPhail’s latest comes from Scotland with Friday’s forthcoming festival premiere in tow for Anna And The Apocalypse which stars Ella Hunt in the title role with more on the film from former festival programmer Todd Brown:
Teenage Anna’s life is typical enough. Chafing against the narrow horizons of her small town, she dreams of bigger things. It’s not so much that she doesn’t love her friends and family — she does — it’s just that they’re all so… familiar. So typical. So predictable. Her childhood best friend aches for a romance that she has no interest in, no matter how close they might be. The school jock that she had a fling with is proving to be disappointingly predictable in his behavior. And it’s becoming progressively harder for Anna to conceal her disappointment with just how satisfied her widower-father is with the blue collar simplicity of his never-changing existence. And then it all goes to shit.
The night of the high school Christmas concert marks the arrival of the undead in Anna’s small town. And so begins a struggle to band together and survive. Future dreams are forced aside by the overwhelming need to survive the present in this winning Scottish musical-horror-comedy.
Yes, we said musical. And we mean it. John McPhail’s feature has its origins in Ryan McHenry’s BAFTA-nominated short film titled simply ZOMBIE MUSICAL. And while every film needs to stand purely on its own terms, there’s no getting around the fact that this particular film’s origins add an extra layer of poignancy to the whole affair.
Following the success of his short film, McHenry set to work on writing the script and music for the feature expansion. McHenry was well on the road to making the feature version when — still in his mid-twenties — he was diagnosed with cancer. He would achieve viral fame as the creator of the “Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal” videos on Vine while in the hospital before losing his battle. McHenry’s sense of humor thrived even as his body failed.
Honoring McHenry’s wishes, producer Naysun Alae-Carew refused to let the project die with its creator. Enter rising star John McPhail, whose deft directorial touch crafts what now stands as both Anna and McHenry’s statement on their own impending mortality and their stubborn refusal to let it end them even as it claims them.