Starring Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradley
Expectation is key with this film. If you approach Wyrmwood expecting a cutting social commentary using zombies as a metaphor, while the heroes are pushed to their limits both emotionally and physically, then this is not the film for you. If, however, you are more interested in a group of guys tearing across the bush in a zombie-fuelled HiLux, fighting off undead hordes with a gas-powered harpoon, all while chasing a paramilitary cabal trying to use the apocalypse to their ends, then you may be in luck.
One night an ominous meteor shower (the biblical Wyrmwood) spells the end of humanity, as the people are overcome with a murderous rage and become flesh-craving zombies. Only a few survivors are immune to the outbreak, struggling to stay alive in the zombie plague. Mourning the death of his wife and child, Barry (Jay Gallagher) receives a call from his sister, Brooke (Bianca Bradley) telling him she is still alive. As the very rules of physics themselves alter, Barry must race across a zombie strewn outback to attempt to save his only living family, little knowing that Brooke herself has been kidnapped by a squad of NBC-suited soldiers with nefarious plans.
Wyrmwood is unashamedly C-grade Ozplotation horror. With its lurid colours, blood-soaked action, nonsensical plot and camp performances, it demands to be viewed as a creature feature. Made on a shoe-string budget it aims big, bringing fast-paced action and larrikin humour to the screen. For a decent amount of its run time it actually achieves this, keeping in-close to the frenetic zombie fights to hide its limitations. Nor is it afraid to borrow from other cult classics, referencing them in its visual style. Mad Max would be the obvious one with many of Miller’s camera movements cheekily paid homage to here, but Evil Dead 2, Resident Evil and many other zombie films get call backs.
There are more than a few rough edges here. Some of these are to do with the limitations of the budget, with the occasional bit of cheap CG or prop on display (although it must be stated this is the exception, not the rule). The camera work is often too close at times during a fight sequence. It is understandable that director Kiah Roache-Turner would take this approach both to hide his budget and to increase tension, but more variety in composition would actually give a clearer sense of the choreography. Finally, the script itself has some glaringly nonsensical plot points and massive leaps, but this itself remains true to many of Wyrmwood‘s grindhouse inspirations and is likely intentional.
If you forgive these limitations, then what you are left with is a rough gem in the spirit of Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste. For all its flaws its vitality, comedy and enthusiasm shine through. A bloody good time.