A fate worse than death: becoming a zombie – as seen in hundreds of movies about zombie invasions. Many are brilliant and some are so ridiculous and cheesy, but we can’t get enough of them, can we? Wyrmwood is another entry in the flesh-eating canon. I wasn’t expecting much from this micro-budget “B” movie, but it was one of the best cinematic surprises in a long while.
It’s an awesome mix of Mad Max and Zombieland, with a splash of George A. Romero and Sam Raimi. Paying homage to its influences, it has all the ingredients of an old-school zombie flick. From hordes of the undead, a desolate wasteland, to a fierce battle for survival, this film has a lot to recommend it.
Our hero is Barry (Jay Gallagher), an everyman mechanic who lives in the Australian outback. The drama kicks in when Barry gets a frantic phone call from his sister Brooke, who has just survived a zombie attack. These attacks are happening everywhere, so his only choice is to armour up and fight. The film actually starts mid-way, with grunting zombies being shot at left right and centre, but then it rewinds time to the day before the outbreak.
The meat of the plot is when Brooke gets kidnapped by a paramilitary group, so Barry teams up with some fellow survivors to try and find his sister. It’s a standard set up, but with more humour and energy; you better get the popcorn out because this movie is 100% entertainment. It might not be the best ninety minutes of your life, but it’ll grab your attention like the best films do.
The comedy and action will win you over, I’m sure. Character development and narrative aren’t a priority, but the actors do well at making you care about what’s happening. It has an in-your-face style, with DIY horror. Wyrmwood is at its best when it brings out the absurd, such as the idea that zombies can power up an engine: “This truck runs on zombies. No zombies? No truck.” Entertainment like this is a testament to the filmmakers’ imagination. The same can be said for the humour, which is cracklingly funny, not to mention the whizzy dialogue.
Watching Barry and his team gear up in armoured outfits to fight their way through dozens of zombies is fun and brutal. Towards the end, it does run out of steam as the rapid pace loses momentum. This is a movie in a genre with an established fandom, so I embrace the incoherent madness it offers.
A mad, totally bonkers film held together by a decent story. It brings new touches to a tired genre by introducing some interesting concepts. More than a footnote to the movies and TV shows that clearly inspired it, Wyrmwood aims higher, making it a good zombie movie in its own right. See it.
Director: Kiah Roach-Turner
Writers: Kiah Roach-Turner & Tristan Roach-Turner
Stars: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradley, Keith Agius, Leon Burchill
Distributor: IFC Films
Run Time: 91 minutes.
Buy.Rent.Stream – Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead