Barry is a talented mechanic and family man whose life is torn apart on the eve of a zombie apocalypse. His sister, Brooke, is kidnapped by a sinister team of gas-mask wearing soldiers & experimented on by a psychotic doctor. While Brooke plans her escape Barry goes out on the road to find her & teams up with Benny, a fellow survivor – together they must arm themselves and prepare to battle their way through hordes of flesh-eating monsters in a harsh Australian bushland.
As much as I love zombie films (and I sincerely do love them), I think it’s safe to say that there isn’t much originality left to be mined from the sub genre. What’s left I ask? Sometimes its a virus that creates the zombies. Sometimes its a biblical plague, sometimes its from outer space, toxic waste, my cousin’s meat loaf – it could be from anything. But the zombies pretty much all do the same thing from film to film, they moan, walk slowly (although they have ran in the past), and they eat human flesh – big freaking whoop. So when faced with Wyrmwood, which had been described to me as “The next big thing” as far as zombie films go, I was indeed skeptical. What could writer/directors (& brothers) Kiah and Tristan Roache Turner add to the zombie legend that would strike me as new & different?
Wyrmwood opens with a trio dressed in their best pseudo Mad Max outfits, shooting at a plethora of zombies. It seems like this particular strain of zombie has really bad breath, since we can see their breath coming out of their mouths – it’s all black and toxic looking. Since CGI blood is everywhere, it’s immediately evident that there wasn’t too much of a budget here. This really bugs me because it’s so freaking obvious that it’s not real blood that it takes me out of the moment – it all looks & feels artificial. This isn’t too cool of a thing when you’re trying to convince your audience that there’s some serious blood being shed.
But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. After the firefight, the trio are sitting together and relating some stories about where they were when the zombie apocalypse started. Benny (Leon Burchill), tells of how he saw a star fall from the sky, and how the citizens of Australia began turning into zombies directly afterwards. Barry (Jay Gallagher), tell of how he had to kill his wife & daughter after they became infected with whatever is creating the zombies. Additionally, his sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) has been kidnapped by a mad scientist of sorts and Barry is dead set on rescuing her before she becomes the scientist’s next victim. He then teams up with a group of survivors (the Mad Max guys from the beginning) to rescue his sister. But, as it turns out, there are worse things than zombies out there waiting for him. In the meanwhile, as Brooke is held hostage she somehow develops the power to communicate telepathically with the zombies (Zombie Whisperer?). This comes in handy when she’s pissed off and wants to off somebody, but this idea isn’t too fleshed out and it feels a bit forced at times. It’s a new wrinkle in the zombie genre though, and for that Wyrmwood should be lauded. Another novel twist comes when it’s discovered that the blood of zombies is flammable (hence their funky breath). So when Barry, Benny & company run out of fuel – they figure out how to pump zombie blood into their vehicles and hit the road.
Wyrmwood hits the ground running and rarely eases up on the pedal to allow you a chance to breathe. And while this might sound like fun to most of you, I found it a bit exhausting after awhile. Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoyed the sheer insanity of it all, but in the end it didn’t really add up to much. In all truthfulness, I had something of a headache 30 minutes into the film, and it got worse as the film proceeded. Its most interesting plotline, Brooke’s newfound control over zombies, isn’t really expanded on as much as it should’ve been. The mad scientist (Berynn Schwerdt) that has her imprisoned, has a few moments of inspired lunacy (he really likes KC and the Sunshine Band), but there isn’t enough story given to his character to make him as quirky as the script seems to think he is.
But Wyrmwood isn’t boring by any means. It’s a deliriously bloody road trip through an Aussie hell that most of you will get intense satisfaction out of. The performances are rather hit and miss for the most part, but the film moves at such a breakneck pace that you won’t notice. The special makeup efx are pretty much standard for a zombie film, but they don’t look bad. Sadly, the preponderance of CGI blood really turned me off, it just looks bad. Wyrmwood doesn’t have any underlying social messages like Romero’s zombie films have, and it isn’t a downer like his film are either. It’s a fast paced adrenaline rush of a zombie film that’s light on logic but heavy on action, and that ought to please the majority of you. For the select few of you who will enjoy it, but not quite as much as everyone else does (like me), it’s an acceptably manic diversion with enough new wrinkles on the zombie apocalypse to make you want to see what the Turner brothers have up their sleeves next time out.
Wyrmwood – 3 out of 5 shrouds.
- Audio Commentary With The Roache-Turner Brothers
- The Wyrmdiaries: Behind The Scenes Of WYRMWOOD Featurette
- Crowdfunding Videos: Wyrmwood Production Pitch
- Deleted Scenes
- 7-Minute Teaser Scene
- Storyboards By The Director
- Theatrical Trailer