The pitch is: Shaun of the Dead meets High School Musical. In Scotland.
If you’re like, “FUCK YEAH GIVE ME THAT IN THE FACE” then you’re going to like this movie. If a zombie musical with Christmas visual jokes sounds awful to you, I’m not going to try to change your mind. This movie absolutely is what it is, and it leans hard on the musical trope of people randomly singing and doing choreographed dance routines, then continuing on with their lives as if nothing at all weird has happened.
Regular kid Anna wants to get out of her little town of Haven in Scotland; her goal is to escape to Australia and travel for a bit, though she assures her janitor dad that she’ll be back and will go to University. (He is, as you can imagine, not convinced.) Anna’s friends/compatriots have their own problems: Steph is a socially awkward lesbian who just wants to bring attention to important social issues while having no idea how to interact with normal humans; John is in love with Anna and just wants to go to art school; Chris needs to figure out how to emotionally connect with the subjects he’s filming and find their humanity; Lisa wants Chris to show up for her when she needs him and for Anna to buck up; and Nick is just a douchebag. Oh, and there’s a new headmaster taking over the school, the bushily-bearded Savage, who is a total dick when the movie starts and just gets worse.
Then the zombie apocalypse happens. In a slight reversal, most of the kids are trapped outside of the school and are coming in to rescue their loved ones, while inside the building things are getting… touchy.
It’s very much the kind of movie it is. If watching comedic gore and Yes-Belive-Us-They’re-Totally-Teenagers deal with their emotional issues sounds good to you, you’re going to have a lot of fun with this. The music’s poppy and engaging; I got earwormed pretty bad by one of the songs for about two days after seeing it. If it sounds not fun to you, I’m not going to try to change your mind.
I think what was an interesting angle in the film was the conflict between the headmaster, Savage, and Anna’s dad, Tony. It’s very much something you could read as a north vs south (UK style), educated middle class vs working class conflict, the the upper class dude (Savage) at one particularly horrific point calling Tony a “pleb” as other very bad things are happening. Though Lisa provides the moral center of the film in an absolutely memorable exchange with Savage, which occurs because Lisa is concerned about the heart condition one of the people trapped in the school has. It goes something like this (per my unreliable memory):
Savage: And what does society do when things start to fall apart?
Lisa: We help each other.
Savage: We prioritize.
I’m betting here that Savage is a Tory. Just saying.
As with many horror-comedy movies, the horror wins out a bit over the comedy in the end. Just don’t get too attached to a lot of the characters is the moral here. But some of the comedy is screamingly funny, with the big winner being Lisa’s song at the Christmas show, which is incredibly, hilariously dirty and involves dancing boys wielding large candy canes in absolutely mortifying ways. About all I wanted out of the film that I didn’t get (other than happy endings for several of the characters I liked, which is just not going to happen because… horror) was more of a character arc for doucheboy Nick. I think the movie was trying to aim at something and didn’t quite succeed, maybe because there wasn’t quite enough room in its lean, 93-minute run time.
[JUST ONE SPOILER BELOW]
As a free service to my fellow queers, however, I’m happy to inform you that the lesbian doesn’t die.