Found Family With Steph In ‘Anna And The Apocalypse’ [The Lone Queer]

Anna And The Apocalypse

This here queer loves a good horror movie, a good musical, and a good Christmas movie. I genuinely would not have believed you if you told me that there would eventually be a Christmas horror musical set during a zombie apocalypse that aligned with the sensibility of High School Musical and Shaun of the Dead. But there is! That film is 2017’s Anna and the Apocalypse

If you haven’t been Christmas blessed by a viewing of Anna and the Apocalypse, it tells the story of a group of high school seniors who are in the midst of their annual Christmas program, making big life decisions, and an impending zombie apocalypse. Anna (Ella Hunt) is the titular character, but we aren’t here to discuss her although she and every other character are wonderful. Our focus today is on Steph (Sarah Swire), our lone queer. 

Steph is introduced on the phone speaking to a significant other. “You know I can’t afford to fly out to my parents’ place. I just thought it’d be nice to spend Christmas as a couple,” she wearily states. As for the significant other, it seems as if they don’t find Steph important enough to spend Christmas with her. Steph’s on her own for Christmas. As if that’s not enough bullshit to deal with, her passion as a journalist is constantly blocked by their asshole principal, Savage (Paul Kaye). He denies an editorial that she wants in the school blog. He then follows that up by taking the keys away to her car since she parked in faculty parking. 

During the film’s first musical number, “Break Away”, we catch a glimpse of the possible editorial title on her laptop screen: “Forgotten at Christmas, Our Homeless Shame.” It’s shown within just a quick glimpse while she’s singing, “There’s a world out there. Why does no one care? Are they lost in the games they play? So much they don’t see, but there’s more to me, and I know I must break away.” It’s never quite solidified throughout the film, but with her parents not in the picture, and the prospect of being alone for Christmas, is Steph speaking the truth in her work? Her own truth? Is she homeless?

A scene further in Anna and the Apocalypse reveals that her parents have indeed moved to Mexico. In the same scene, she reveals that the significant other who won’t spend Christmas with her is her girlfriend. Putting those two things together (without her parents + queer) leads me to a specific place being a queer person who has experienced displacement from their parents because of my sexuality. Steph’s parents moved to Mexico and left her behind to fend for herself. 

It’s never explicitly said that that is the case. In fact, the very few clues that I’ve mentioned are all that we have to lead to that assumption. “… dropped at the first opportunity…” is another clue given in that scene. Steph has experienced something that a lot of queers can identify with, but beyond that one scene, it’s not explored any further. In some way, I’m upset that it isn’t. We could have gotten an extremely powerful ballad out of it (because Swire can SING). In another way, I’m glad that they didn’t make her storyline entirely based on that. Sometimes we want to experience queer sadness, but there are other times that we want an escape from it. I think writers Alan McDonald and Ryan McHenry handled Steph’s situation very well considering that what they wrote was a feel-good sort of Christmas movie. 

The rest of Steph’s story relies solely on being a help to her friends. She assists filmmaker Chris (Christopher Leveaux) in filming the perfect film, even with the zombie apocalypse going on. She gets the first legit zombie kill while she and her friends are holed up in a bowling alley. It’s she who provides the getaway car during the film’s ending when things seem dire for the remaining friends. She’s basically the hero of the entire film. 

Just like Steph, though, I did the same in being displaced by my parents. I wallowed in my situation on my own, but when it came to my friends, my priorities were about them. Especially my queer friends. I never wanted any of them to experience what I experienced. Even if it wasn’t the same situation that I was in. I wanted to protect them from any sort of pain or negligence that was put on them because of their sexuality. I would and do and will continue to protect any of my loves, any queer, throughout a zombie apocalypse. In the real world, Steph’s zombie apocalypse is a stand-in for the homophobia, bigotry, and utter nastiness that occurs.

While Steph is given the token role of queer friend, the layers are much deeper than what the surface portrays throughout Anna and the Apocalypse. “Am I lying, am I cheating, am I fooling myself? Why should they listen to what I have to say? Am I just another nobody like everyone else ’cause I don’t want to live that way,” she sings further into the “Break Away” number. She has this reluctance to herself based on what she’s gone through. In the end, she does what has to be done to protect those that she cares about. That’s a place that I feel most queer people are at. We protect because we know how it feels to not be protected. We will be the person at the end who drives up in the getaway car so their loves can escape the gaping mouths of hungry zombies. 

“BOOM! Saved your life,” Steph exclaims as she drives up in that getaway car. The friends get in the car, and in their minds is, “Where to next?” Strangely, for Steph, the next is that she’s gained a family. Not by choice, but by fate. Here’s to hoping that these remaining friends don’t abandon her throughout the remainder of the zombie apocalypse. I will take this moment to put out in the universe that we get to see this happen in a sequel to Anna and the Apocalypse. I’m gonna need another number from Steph with her raspy, belty voice. In addition, I’m going to need a number by Steph that is fully queer. 



Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter