Starring Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradley, Leon Burchill
Directed by Kiah Roache-Turner
The breath of new life is SORELY in need to bring forth resurrection into the antiquated sub-genre of horror known simply as the “zombie movie.” Looking back, we’ve literally seen and heard it all: from the dead returning to life from whatever reason, in a myriad of situations, fought by a multitude of combatants – some with successful results, others falling by the wayside. Could it be time to finally banish this specific genus to the Phantom Zone, where it can lie in wait until one director can come forward one day and free it from its shackles? Let’s jump into the Australian slam-bang feature Wyrmwood from director Kiah Roache-Turner before there are any judgments passed on down towards the accused.
While I LOVE to toss the details around of a movie like a fresh cut from an engorged artery, I’ll refrain from offering a whole lot here, simply due to the fact that this movie needs very little set-up from this feckless reviewer. A zombie apocalypse of the highest order has overtaken the Australian territory, and we’re introduced to a gaggle of characters who’ve undergone some definitive changes in their lives since this mess began. We hear the quick-story of one man (Leon Burchill) who offed his brother in the woods shortly after he turned into a flesh-craving lunatic, while another (Jay Gallagher) had the unfortunate task of dispatching his infected wife and daughter with a nail gun…talk about a lousy way to start your weekend. In any sense, Turner (and his brother Tristan, who co-wrote the film) wastes NO time in assembling a team of zombie-bashers and prepares the audience to get wet.
Barry (Gallagher), who is trying to get over the notion of tack-driving his family to death, now has the unenviable task of trying to rescue his kidnapped sister from a team of gas-masked soldiers who are bringing her to be subjected to rounds of medical experimental testing, by an evil scientist with an ear for KC and the Sunshine Band (trust me, you’re going to want to see this). Amidst the trouble Barry is now facing in boatloads, he begins to use that rage and desperation to start mowing down some denizens of the dead in true stylistic fashion. Brooke (Barry’s tortured sis), hasn’t let the extensive testing upon her weary self tear her down, acting as a heroine of sorts, taking on a more defined role as not just the helpless female character, but something MUCH stronger than the audience could have seen coming.
Upsides? – while not exactly a new take on the undead story line, Wyrmwood does offer an escalating scale of action that starts in 2nd gear, and quickly ramps up to overdrive, complemented by a POUNDING soundtrack that fuels the fire as far as zombie-killing is concerned (some delicate ears may grow tired of the incessant noise from time to time). We also have a group of individuals that you can actually give a crap about – some back stories will entertain, while others will sadden, but trust me, it’s all for the betterment of the product here. As far as downsides go, the multiple camera angles can give you the woozies every now and then, as if the camera was handed off to a meth freak that’s been mainlining Red Bull into his veins, and there WILL be the unhappy viewer that will see this feature as “just another zombie flick” – and for that, they are absolutely correct. However, the way the action is dispersed, and everything comes together make this a simple, effective, and plain fun film to throw yourself into…and THIS is coming from a guy who has reached his wits’ end with all this zombie nonsense, so figure that one out!