Wyrmwood is (another) post apocalyptic zombie horror movie though set in Australia this time round. It is described as Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead (big praise) which I assume is purely because Wyrmwood has both zombies and a car in it. Don’t expect it to live up to that billing at all though. That isn’t to say it is completely terrible, it isn’t. It just isn’t that great either.
Wyrmwood was directed by Kia Roache Turner and this is his first full length movie. The movie mostly focuses on two people who are brother and sister and the journey the brother takes to get back to his sister once the zombie outbreak starts. Barry, the brother played by Jay Gallagher, is a very skilled mechanic with a wife and child while the sister Brooke, played by Bianca Bradey, doesn’t appear to have any other immediate family and happens to be living very far away from Barry. A third main character, though not as integral as Barry and Brooke, is Benny (Leon Burchill) who is an aborigine who hooks up with Barry early in the film. He seems to be there to lighten the mood as Barry and Brooke are very much the sombre style of character though, at times, Benny is nothing more than annoying.
While both Barry and Brooke are living their lives, something happens that leads to a zombie outbreak. We are never privy to exactly what happened though there is mention of a comet crashing to earth which is the closest hint we get. The film starts fast and there is only a little time for character development. This film obviously aims for fast paced action and goes that way from the off.
The film starts with a bunch of blokes dressed in heavy make shift armour bursting out of a garage and trying to reach a car before we have a short stint of people sitting around where they tell their story of how they reached that point. This is where you get your little bit of back story and character development. We see Benny’s story of being in the outback looking for missing friends who eventually turn up, one as a zombie and one as that zombie’s victim. Barry’s story is much more in depth and we see him living a pretty standard day before the outbreak takes place. We then see him having to protect his wife and child while trying to make an escape attempt from their home. This doesn’t go so well though and both his wife and child get infected leading to Barry having to make a decision on whether to end their lives or not. Finally we see Brooke leading a photography session with friends when the attack takes place, her friends get infected and she ends up stuck in a room, holding on to the ceiling rafters while a couple zombies try to lunge for her from below. Brooke at first appears to be lucky as some heavily armed guards burst in and save her but we quickly learn she is being captured for experimentation, rather than being saved.
Back with Barry, who has hooked up with another survivor by the name of Chalker, played by Yuri Covich, who has a vehicle. Shortly after driving their car stops and they are stuck at the roadside when attached by a group of zombies. In this, Chalker dies though Benny and Barry meet and carry on their journey. It is actually Benny who kills Chalker by accident and we get an idea of the silliness involved in the dialogue that follows with Benny saying “Shit, he wasn’t a zombie, is he alright?” and Barry replying, “No mate, his head is fucked”. All this after he has just had his head blown off with a shotgun. Funny, but silly.
Barry and Benny, now without car, eventually come across a little garage where there are a couple more blokes holed up inside, they make it inside, which seems a little stupid as once in, they realise they are also now trapped. We do get told a little about the zombies apparently becoming super charged at night so perhaps that explains their desperation to be inside. Now inside, the guys need to break out again and there is a truck parked not too far away though it has no fuel in it and now we get the silliest plot point of the story as Barry realises that there is a gas omitting from the zombies and it is highly flammable (we have seen a green gas since the beginning but didn’t realise it has relevance) and, being a skilled mechanic, he believes he can hook the zombies up to the car and make it work on zombie breath. The Mad Max comparisons come from this bit as the guys all dress up in make shift armour, go out and retrieve the car, drag it back to the garage and turn it into an armoured vehicle with a zombie hooked up to it as fuel from the gas they omit.
While all this craziness is taking part, we are also showing scenes of what is happening to Brooke who is chained up alongside a load of zombies. There is also a completely loopy scientist providing the examinations who laughs hysterically and prances around while shoving huge needles in Brooke. We soon realise that she is being infected with whatever is affecting the zombies and, over time, she realises that she is gaining the power to control the other zombies around her. I have no idea how this happens and there is no explanation but it happens and with her newly acquired powers she manages to escape the “mad professor” and get a little revenge on him at the same time.
Back to Barry and Benny who have broken down at night as they have now also realised that the reason the zombies are more active in the evening is because the gas they omit starts being used internally, making them “fuelled up” but this also means that their car stops working. They hole up in their car for the night and, lucky for them, in the morning a truck comes along with some armed guards who happen to be the same ones who captured Brooke. It turns out Brooke is in the back of the truck in a mobile lab, rather than a static one. That was lucky. Barry and Brooke are now reunited but have a battle against some armed guards to survive first. Brooke’s powers get put to good use here, much to Barry’s amazement and at the end of a small fight, we see a final scene of Barry and Brooke out on the road, Barry in full armour and Brooke with a small army of zombies ready to pounce at her command like a very peculiar Bonny and Clyde.
To summarise, this film is a little nuts. Many critics enjoy it for this reason but for me it is a bit too much. I like to understand a bit about why things are happening and there is very little in the way of explanation for anything here. There are many good things here too, don’t get me wrong. It looks good, the zombies look great as in the image below –
And, considering it would have been made on a pittance of a budget, it is a very well put together film that is humorous at times but I thought the bad outweighed the good.
Silly dialogue, ridiculous plot and very average acting made even the funny bits often feel cringe worthy.
I do think they get a small nod of respect for the film they put together as it is their first one and done on a measly budget but you don’t require a huge budget to write intelligent lines and that would have made the difference. The good, it is occasionally funny, the zombie make-up is great and it is shot in a way that is visually appealing. The bad, the story is overly wacky, the acting is mostly wooden and the dialogue is stupid.
All in all, it isn’t the absolute worst 90 minute blast I have ever endured and there are moments which have a mix of horror and gore, a little comedy and even some cool costumes but its attempt to differentiate itself from the genre has left it’s plot looking stupid and incoherent to me.
Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead
The Final Score - 4/10
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