2017'sAnna and the Apocalypseis a bit of an unconventional Christmas movie, as it's both a musical and zombie apocalypse horror rolled into one here's how all the movie's original songs rank from worst to best.
Described as "Shaun of the Dead meets La La Land",Anna and the Apocalypseexplores the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse that happens basically overnight. Anna (Ella Hunt) and her classmates abruptly have their lives thrown off-kilter and not only must think of their futures after high school, but whether they will live long enough to get the chance to enjoy their adult lives. The movie choosing to blend genres was a smart choice, as the uplifting musical numbers were an opportunity forthe characters inAnna and the Apocalypseto express their feelings and stories without pandering to the same, almost boilerplate conversations that seem to happen whenever people are thrust into a zombie apocalypse. It feels fresh, different, and occasionally manages to spin the plot from a dark, dreary place of hopelessness to an uplifting possibility of "what if"?Anna and the Apocalypseis a playful jaunt that happens to land a few incredibly emotional gut-punches, and makes no apology for them, either.
Related: Every Song On The Anna And The Apocalypse Soundtrack
Many horror fans sought out the movie because it was a rare example of Christmas horror, a sub-genre that has been growing exponentially in recent years, but has been slightly limited in the past. However, they ended up rallying around the movie's message of hope and overcoming the odds to find purpose and meaning beyond one's dire circumstances. Since its release,Anna and the Apocalypsehas become a Christmas favorite, and manages to extend itself beyond its humble, zombie horror roots. In that regard, the musical numbers have an even greater importance they've opened the movie up to audiences who might be swayed away from choosing to watch a Christmas movie that's centered around a zombie apocalypse. Here's how every song inAnna and the Apocalypseranks from worst to best.
All the music inAnna and the Apocalypsewas written by Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly, and performed by various members of the cast throughout. The orchestral version of "What A Time To Be Alive" is a nice, appropriately Christmas-stylized tune. However, it's not as impactful since it isn't featured front and center in the movie like the other, bigger numbers. The concept of the song is fantastic, and reflects the movie's core message along with the other version of the same tune, but ultimately doesn't pack the same punch, and is the most forgettable overall.
Just like the orchestral version, "What A Time To Be Alive" delivers a strong messagewhich is made all the more poignant by the lyrics that accompany this versionbut is relatively basic in terms of tune and overall feel. It's not a toe-tapping sing-along, nor an emotionally thought-provoking ballad. The simplicity of it is nice and does reflect the Christmas holiday, which is typically marked with less rousing and more melodically straightforward tunes, but will probably not be most people's favorite when compared to the others on the soundtrack.
Perhaps it's because "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" is the villain's song, but this tune falls flat on numerous levels. Paul Kayewho plays the school's wicked vice principal Arthur Savagedoes a fantastic job with the song, but it's so utterly villainous that it's difficult to like despite his great performance. Musically speaking, it's not the most melodic or lyrically interesting, which is also another low mark. However, the bright spot of "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" is how it doubles as a character-building exercise.Anna and the Apocalypsegives the audience a very human villain to hate, and after this song, it's difficult not to hate him.
Related: Every Christmas Horror Movie Streaming In December 2020 (& Where To Watch)
"Christmas Means Nothing Without You" isAnna and the Apocalypse's version of a standard, Christmas pop song. And it works, however, given that it's played at the end of the movieduring the creditsit's one that a lot of people will miss. Even if they do stick through the credits to hear it, it's relatively standard fare, and acts as a counter to the very strong finale song, which earns a place much higher up on the list. While it's nice to end the movie with a jollier, more rousing tune, it takes away from the sobering final moments where the audience is left to sit and reflect with themselves, their feelings, and mourn the loss of the movie's fallen.
Quite simply, "The Fish Wrap" is hysterical. Performed during a school talent show by individuals in festive, penguin costumes, the song is a rap about fish. Also, it's full of puns, such as the choice to use the term "mother flipper" in its lyrics. Though the song isn't performed in full during the movie, the full version is worth seeking out. In terms of how it relates to the movie's narrative, "The Fish Wrap" is really just a point of brilliant, comedic splendor that gives the audience some much-needed relief beforeAnna and the Apocalypsestarts killing off beloved characters and takes a darkthough somewhat expectedturn.
"It's That Time Of Year" is absolutely genius, and might be funnier than it actually is depending on who someone is watching the movie with.Anna and the Apocalypsecan be enjoyed by some younger audience members, but the adults in the room will find much to appreciate about this double-entendre laden, highly sexual invitation from a young woman who is trying to seduce Santa Claus. It sounds ridiculous, and is ridiculous given what's going on in the movie, but offers the audience a few moments of comic relief before things start to take a very dark turn, just like the other talent show performance, "The Fish Wrap".
"Human Voice" isn't the strongest song, nor the most memorable, but its message of society's reliance on technology in place of genuine, human connection resonates louder in 2020. So many have taken to Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime to continue relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this new normal, the concept that people would long for something as simple and wholly necessary as a human voice speaking to them during a time of uncertainty and crisis isn't at all far-fetched. "Human Voice" is a melancholy expression of the survivors thinking about the times they took normalcy and something like a face-to-face concept for granted in the wake of knowing they may never get those chances again.
Related: Every Christmas & Holiday Horror Movie Releasing In 2020
Anna and the Apocalypsecleverly uses songs like "Hollywood Ending" to foreshadow that not everything will go the way the audience wishes it would. After all, despite the heartwarming and hilarious moments,this is a horror movie. Beyond that, it's a zombie apocalypse horror movie, which is arguably geared toward being bleak in its most basic definition. "Hollywood Ending" blatantly and boldly tells the audience "there's no such thing as a Hollywood ending" and implies that many of the people singing itall hopeful, bright-eyed teenagers who are ruminating on their futurewill never get their happy ending, even if they deserve it. Beyond that, it's a traditional showstopper with dance and lively singing that directly opposes its somewhat dark message that there's not always a good outcome in real life.
Perhaps the crowning moment for Ella Hunt's titular Anna, "Give Them A Show" is her standoff with the villainous Mr. Savage where she's content to do whatever it takes to save her father, even if it costs them her life. In a battle sequence with zombiesand a giant candy cane weaponwhere Anna picks off zombies while singing about how she might not survive, "Give Them A Show" is almost straight out ofBuffy the Vampire Slayer's musical episode. Anna, the movie's heroine, has come to terms with the fact that she might not make it to see the day's end, and surmises that if she is to fall and perish, she'll give "one hell of a show" before she's done.
Not to be confused with the Kelly Clarkson song of the same name, "Break Away" isAnna and the Apocalypse's desperate plea from its teenage characters that paints a picture of longing. Each one of them, for different reasons, wants to break out of their town, away from the monotony, and find a purpose for themselves. It's a common sentiment expressed by young people, but the amount of heart and soul that is poured into the lyrics of this song is made all the more melancholy by the notion that not everyone will get the chance to see their true potential realized. After all, the movie outright says that not everyone will get a "Hollywood Ending". Beyond that, it's lovely and easily can be enjoyed outside of the movie's context.
Related: Nightmare Before Christmas Songs Ranked From Worst To Best
"Soldier At War" shows the other side of zombie apocalypse survivors. Nick (Ben Wiggins) is established to be something of a bully, one of the athletic, popular boys at school. However, while his classmates are desperate for human connection, he's found his true purpose in the midst of crisis: killing zombies. "Soldier At War" expresses this notion where he's managed to find the silver lining in tragedy. He's good at killing zombies, and beyond that, it gives him something to focus on. The song is also good at sticking with the posturing that Nick's character becomes infamous for to throw people off the scent of his underlying vulnerability. However, in retrospect, "Soldier At War" takes on a secondary meaning when Nick's backstory is revealed. Then, it becomes a narrative of him feeling like his life has little meaning other than what he can do in the here and now he doesn't think of a future for himself like the others do, but he can kill zombies and focus on that.
A tragic refrain forAnna and the Apocalypse, "I Will Believe" is a last stand for the movie's survivors. Sung while the walls are perpetually closing in, it serves as something of a curtain call for the final moments. As the survivors must contend with their substantial loss, and potentially face the loss of their own lives, they try to conjure a feeling of optimism and hope. After all, if they are still breathing, is there not something that's still worth hoping for? This song provides a moment that's not often seen in zombie apocalypse movies the sobering reality that life is always going to be different, and there may not be going back. While there's optimism in the concept of them finding reasons to still hope and still believe, the fact that they've already lost so much and their world is forever changed can't be rewritten. It's a powerful moment made better by being wrapped around a song.
There are several reasons why "Turning My Life Around" is the best song inAnna and the Apocalypse. First, it's catchy and upbeat, a real toe-tapper. Second, it's made infinitely more interesting in the context of the scene, where Anna and her friend, John (Malcolm Cumming), are gearing up for another school day, determined to turn their lives around. However, in the midst of their joyful singing and dancing, the world is crumbling around them. The zombies are taking over. People are being eaten in the street. There's blood and disarray everywhere, and neither Anna or John are any the wiser they're thinking of their future, and not even realizing that it's already permanently and irreversibly changed. This context makes the song, which is happy and upbeat, feel more precarious, as it's essentially the big jumping-off point for the apocalypse. It's clever, and the shining example of howAnna and the Apocalypsemanages to successfully blend genres that don't seem to go together and likely wouldn't, in any other movie.
Next: Best Christmas Horror Movies
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Jack Wilhelmi is the horror features editor at Screen Rant, and has been with the site since 2019. He is a lifelong fan of the horror genre, and loves any excuse to discuss genre-related topics, since none of his friends dare challenge him in horror trivia. He has been published on the independent horror blog Morbidly Beautiful, and has covered major genre film festivals such as Cinepocalypse in Chicago. He has also served as a judge for the Ax Wound Film Festival. In his free time, he is a devoted dog dad to a high-spirited rescue pup named Peter Quill and enjoys volunteering with various animal rescue organizations. Jack likes to travel and explore dark tourism-related and other various haunted locations. He enjoys studying psychology, the paranormal, and will watch literally any schlocky B-movie on the planet for a laugh.
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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero