Refreshingly low-budget Aussie zombie flick reminds us why we love the genre so much
by TS Alan
A meteor shower turns most of Australia’s inhabitants into flesh-eating monsters, leaving only those with Type A+ blood types immune.
Summary [Spoiler Free]:
Barry and Annie’s daughter Meganne awakens and tells her parents she hears someone in the kitchen. Barry (Jay Gallagher) goes to investigate and is attacked by a wild-eyed, frenzied man, who he is forced to kill. Meanwhile, Barry’s sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) is in the middle of a photo shoot when her subject and her assistant become infected, leaving Brooke trapped in her studio garage. Brooke calls Barry and warns him to get out of the city and come and rescue her. However, before Barry can make it to his destination his child (Meganne West) and wife (Catherine Terracini) become ill, and he is forced to kill them. Despondent and with a broken down vehicle, Barry decides to shoot himself in the head with a nail gun, but finds it empty. A moment later he is confronted by a survivor, who he ends up in a fist fight with until a horde of zombies intervene. Barry tentatively decides to live and heads off with his new mate on foot.
Meanwhile, as Brooke hides in the rafters of her garage waiting for Barry to rescue her, she is kidnapped by gas-mask wearing soldiers and ushered to a laboratory where she is gagged and chained to a wall, where a demented doctor (aptly played by Berynn Schwerdt) injects her with infected blood in an experiment to find a cure.
Barry has now decided to live and with a ragtag band of survivors he sets out to save his sister. What ensues in an action packed zombie thriller with plenty of gore and some unique twists and takes on the “infected” genre.
More often than not, I have been disappointed in the recent glut of zombie films. Of the reviews I did for films released last year, I only gave two features, Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead and I Survived a Zombie Holocaust and one short, Naked Zombie Girl, four star reviews. Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead has surpassed the four star mark and has earned its place in my top zombie flicks of all time. High praise from a cynic.
The Aussie made zombie thriller has been touted by some as “Mad Max Meets Dawn of the Dead.” Though some of the wardrobe in the film and the vehicle our protagonist Barry drives is somewhat reminiscent of the 1981 post-apocalyptic thriller Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, that is where the similarities end. Barry is not an anti-social loner roaming the desolate Australian outback in a dystopian society. He is an anti-hero grieving the loss of his wife and child, trying to save his sister, who bands with other survivors in the immediate aftermath of a zombie uprising.
Those other survivors run the gambit of the mildly intelligent to a bit of the dimwitted. Of the few the last the longest, there is Frank (Keith Agius), whose vehicle is transformed into a Road Warrior-esque machine, equipped with a harpoon and fueled by zombie gas. In the first plot point we find that all fuel has been mysteriously rendered chemically inactive and that zombie blood is flammable. However, it is not the blood that is used to fuel their vehicle, but rather the methane gas that the infected exude from their decaying bodies through their mouths.
Then there’s Benny (Leon Burchill), the not too bright, but well-meaning side-kick whose has some of the best dark comedic lines of the film. He’s a bit of a doofus and annoying at times, but Burchill does it well, making the character very loveable.
A solid performance comes from Bianca Bradey, who steps up to the physicality of the Brooke role, and turns out a tough-ass heroine that takes full advantage of her newly discovered zombie powers. Sure, we’ve seen the zombie-control ability before, most recently in the American television series Z Nation, however, the Roache-Turner brothers take it to the next level.
Barry (Jay Gallagher) is a stalwart guy and a fighter, though he is definitely an anti-hero rather than the tough zombie ass-kicking hero archetype. Barry takes a beating, several times, but you admire the guy for his stubbornness and his refusal to give in to defeat. Gallagher makes the character believable and you want to see him succeed.
Kudos also to Luke McKenzie for his portrayal of the Captain, the antagonistic leader of the military. McKenzie seemed to relish the role for he truly made the Captain a real asshole, and you really wanted to see his character get his comeuppance in the end.
The Roache-Turner brothers have put the fun and gore back into the zombie film with their low-budget horror/thriller that infuses new life into a genre that is nearly dead. Go see it.
Wyrmwood Road of the Dead
Directed by Kiah Roache-Turner
Screenplay by Kiah Roache-Turner and Tristan Roache-Turner
Cast: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey, Leon Burchill, Luke McKenzie, Keith Agius, and Yure Covich.
Run Time: 98 minutes
Release Date: 13 February 2015 (USA)