Starring Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey, Leon Burchill, Luke McKenzie, Yure Covich
Directed by Kiah Roache-Turner
Distributed by Studiocanal
The zombie apocalypse kicks off in highly unusual style when it comes to Kiah Roache-Turner’s rollicking feature debut, Wyrmwood – wherein a strange meteor shower suddenly sees swathes of the outback’s population turn into white-eyed, gas-spewing flesh-eaters.
Caught in the middle of it is Barry (Gallagher), who quickly goes from devoted family man to desperate loner, having been forced to dispatch his wife and young daughter when they succumb to the infection. His only remaining hope is to reach his sister, Brooke (Bradey) – a photographer who lives in a nearby town.
Unbeknownst to him, however, Brooke has already been picked up by a group of military types who most definitely have something more than simple rescue on their minds.
On his travels, Barry comes across a number of fellow survivors, including the hilarious Benny (Burchill), who himself was forced to kill his brother while on a hunting trip, and together they join forces to track down Brooke – drawing the ire of the trained and armed squad who are also on her tail at this point.
Wyrmwood is no standard zombie apocalypse story, however, as the gang discover that the gas which constantly leaks from the zombies’ mouths can actually be used as fuel for vehicles – and so, with some modifications made to their ride including a cage in the rear and a custom gas mask for their fuel-spewing cargo, the remaining survivors hit the road for some The Road Warrior-inspired carnage.
Simply put – Wyrmwood is one of the most entertaining, and wildly inventive, zombie flicks to hit the screen in a long time. Whilst the story is most certainly taken seriously, there’s a consistent undercurrent of Aussie humour which, married with the non-stop pacing, keeps you glued to the action. From the disco-dancing mad scientist to the kinetic vehicular action sequences and the futuristic-married-with-utilitarian aesthetic, there’s never a shortage of something to enjoy as the film progresses.
Even then, writers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner aren’t content to simply pump out another zombie road movie with merely a different aesthetic approach – no, they actually offer something new in their mythos, taking the story down completely unexpected avenues… most notably in the effect of Brooke’s captors’ experiments on her. It’s constantly on the move and constantly offering up surprises and splashes of joy – even if, in the finale, the whole event ends up little more than setup for a sequel, with a cliff-hanger ending that seems to arrive much too abruptly.
The editing, photography and production design are all top notch for what was an ostensibly crowdfunded film, and the cast easily match their quality. Jay Gallagher feels like he’s born to be a star, while Leon Burchill is consistently lovable as the film’s comic relief. Bianca Bradey is convincingly kick-ass as tough chick Brooke – being given most of the more adrenaline-fuelled stunt work – and gives her early victim role a complete flip when she turns the tables on her captors, and ultimately proves to be possibly the most powerful figure in the entire film by the time the credits roll. You go, girl! The rest of the supporting cast are bringing as much game as they can to the proceedings, and it’s hard to pick out a single weak link amongst them.
A stunning debut feature, and certainly one of the best genre flicks to come from the crowdfunding realm, Wyrmwood is a treat that’s not to be missed by anyone who likes their zombies – or, for that matter, simply having fun. It’s in your face, splattery, brash and highly entertaining; like a film that’s just shown up on your doorstep with a crate of beer and the determination to do nothing more but offer you a wild night in.
Studiocanal don’t skimp on the special features with their UK release, either, sporting a cira 50-minute ‘Making of’ that includes plenty of on-set material (including an incredibly hair-raising stunt moment featuring Bradey that could have ended in total disaster!) and proves itself more than worthwhile. We’ve got the original teaser short/scene that was the Roache-Turner brothers’ initial concept pitch for the feature, along with the crowdfunding pitch videos that they used during their campaign. Besides that, there’s a selection of storyboards, a whole bunch of deleted scenes and a very entertaining feature commentary with the brothers behind Wyrmwood‘s brand of cinematic insanity. A very nice package for a great movie.
- The Wyrmwood Diaries: Behind the Scenes of Wyrmwood
- The 7 Minute Teaser Scene
- Crowdfunding Video #1
- Crowdfunding Video #2
- Storyboards by the Director
- Deleted Scenes
- Feature Commentary with the Roache-Turner Brothers