"You want a zombie? I'll get you a zombie" - Brooke
Barry is a mechanic who is happily married with a young daughter, naturally this all changes as the zombie apocalypse descends on Australia. He decides to flee the City, good idea, but along the way both his wife and daughter become infected leading to a judicious use of a nail gun. Toying with suicide Barry eventually decides to go find his sister Brooke, meeting Benny and assorted other survivors along the way.
Meanwhile Brooke, who has shown a keen survival instinct of her own, is abducted by a para military force and is victim to some pretty whacked out experiments with unforseen results. Brooke can control zombies, using them to help with her escape and reunion with Barry. Can the siblings survive the post-apocalyptic Aussie bush, and can they avoid an increasingly hostile military? Strap on the armour, we're taking a bite out of a pretty audacious Aussie Indie.
What sets Wyrmwood aside from the hordes of zombie flicks we get each year is some innovative ideas that raise the movie above the collective moan of a by-now pretty boring sub-genre that is increasingly feeling like it may be in a rut. The Roache-Turner boys are having fun with their script, know the material they are dealing with, and more importantly give that material a good twist to the balls. Try this on for size; Ned Kelly meets Mad Max as the local survivors tool up for the dangers of the post-apocalyptic Badlands. A Scientist completely off the planet, said Scientist recognisable as a descendent of a string of Aussie medicos with Roos bouncing around the top paddock. The survivors are not affected by the initial outbreak due to their blood type, but can be infected if bitten. And the cream rising to the top for mine in the new ideas stakes, fuel not igniting i.e. no cars, but zombies giving off a combustible gas that not only works for firing pistons but also energises the undead through the longest of nights. We're taking a fist fill of original ideas that will have you baying at the moon to get more. I did mention Brooke develops the ability to ring master the zombie hordes right?
So do we get any zombie comfort zone that we can hang our hats on? Sure do, head shots take them out, gut munching mayhem, and the rotting dead being the less of your troubles. We even get an explanation of sorts about the causation of the outbreak, think Aussie standby meteorites or some sort of mystic biblical end of times fodder for the masses. We even get a group of survivors, notable of the Aussie eccentric school of survivalists, who come under siege and whose numbers are gradually whittled down as the diced meat hits the fan. In typical Aussie fashion this is mixed in with a fair amount of slap stick or dialogue heavy humour. The end of the world might be coming about, but by heck that doesn't mean a good Aussie larkin won't miss out on a beer as the teeth meet the flesh.
As you might have surmised by now the movie is pretty adrenaline and testosterone heavy as Barry and his mates go ape shit across the Aussie bush. They discover things about their new world at the same time the audience does, giving Wyrmwood a here and now feeling. Was it just me or was there a nod to Friday the 13th as Barry dons the hockey mask but doesn't have a machete to hand? There's plenty of action going down, and for that matter blood and guts hitting the screen, as Wyrmwood resolves into the road trip from hell as Barry goes hunting for his Sister. But it ain't all male driven survivalist cream your jeans time, Brooke provides a pretty kick arse heroine for the ladies to sagely nod their heads in approval over. Brooke doesn't need to go femme in danger needing a good keen bloke to get her out of Dodge, she's doing okay by herself having taken on zombie turncoats and mad Scientists; loved Brooke developing the ability to go mind control on the zombies to good effect. She doesn't sit back to wonder about her long day journey into night, she's grabbing it by the balls and giving back as good as she gets.
The movie does actually reached Shakespearean heights, okay keep up with the pace here and I'll explain, horror as an art form yo. Barry is on the hero's journeys, a standard trope not only of the Bard but most Western fiction; he rises to the challenge and overcomes odds on his quest, eventually winning the day. Okay admittedly Barry is less of a square jawed hero and more the average bloke who has a lot of help getting there. But regardless, hero's journey, jot that down. Now here's the cool bit, Benny - the Koori guy he meets along the way, fills the role of Falstaff, the comic relief, the fool who eventually rises to heroic stature himself, though in this case Benny doesn't get the girl. So the Roache-Turner Bros doing it Shakespeare style, here first mofos! Oh and we want credit if you throw the idea into a Uni essay okay.
So any statements on the human condition while Barry and his mates are going Mad Max cosplay? Nothing we haven't already seen, some people are apt to go crazy and off the reservation when you remove the restrictions of society, your average bloke will come through when required, and some chicks are going to kick arse right across the apocalypse. Guess the Bros might be pointing out the military will follow orders regardless of how insane those orders are, though I might be reading a tad too much into things there.
For those wondering, yes gore is on the agenda though in less amounts than a poorly done zombie flick - think a particular nasty day at the office for The Walking Dead team. T&A is a non-starter, the movie doesn't need it, we're all here for the high octane action.
Behind the camera the Roache-Turner team have a few things working beyond what one might expect from a zombie outing. Particularly enjoyed the scene where Brooke is doing some sort of video thing as the outbreak swings into full gut munching mode. She has some chick dressed up in pretty spooky makeup, doing a horror thing I guess, when her model suddenly goes into full on zombie mode - it's highly effective and underlines the Roache-Turner boys aren't above shaking up a few tropes as the movie progresses. The movie is notably independent, i.e. not a huge budget, but by and large this doesn't present as an issue to your viewing pleasure.
If you are tired of the zombie subgenre and the never ending movies that pretty much cover the same ground The Walking Dead holds sway over then Wyrmwood is going to be a breath of fresh air. There are new ideas, an Aussie road trip through hell, and a film that doesn't take itself overly seriously. I had a good time from first frame to last frame and have my fingers crossed that a sequel might be percolating away in someone's mind. Full recommendation, the zombie post-apocalypse has never been sweeter, get your bite on with a movie that dares to go one step beyond the norm.