'Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead' - Zombie Movie Review
This film has three modern stories reacting to a zombie outbreak in the Australian Outback.
Benny (Leon Burchill) and his brothers, all of Australian native origin, observe a meteor shower while they camp. The phenomenon, unusual and abundant, somehow worries them. Hours later, Bobby has the horrible revelation that his brothers have become zombies, expelling some kind of gas from their mouth. Benny is forced to kill them.
A photographer named Brooke (Bianca Bradey) is attacked by her model and her assistant, who have become zombies almost instantly for no apparent reason. Brooke manages to neutralize them and alert her brother.
A military group enters a her study by force. After checking that she is immune to the infection, they knock her out so a sinister character called "Doc" can do some cruel medical experiments on her.
A mechanic named Barry (Jay Gallagher) lives with his wife and daughter in a rural house. After murdering a zombie that has sneaked into his kitchen and discovering that the virus is airborne, Barry and his family flee in a car while using gas masks.
Unfortunately, the daughter and the wife take off their masks in a moment of chaos, automatically becoming zombies. Barry realizes that he is immune to the virus and resigns himself to murdering his family with a nailgun. He tries to commit suicide, but the nailgun is empty. Beautiful.
The three characters will cross paths as the story progresses, creating a zombie tale that feels incredibly original and with a crushing personality, something very difficult to achieve in a genre that has done almost everything.
However, the first thing that impresses is the speed, intensity, and confidence with which the movie makes us swallow its fiction. Because we are not only talking about a context where zombies exist but one in which a meteor shower (including a star called Wyrmwood, according to an apocalyptic passage of the Bible) has led to the infection.
A context in which all flammable liquids have ceased to be effective and only the blood and the breath of zombies can be fuel. One in which there is a character that can telepathically control the undead. And it never feels ridiculous or lazy. Everything kinda makes sense.
And all in a film that is not a comedy at all, but a frenetic dystopian action film, which reminds me a lot of the first Mad Max (which had, certainly, little budget).
Yes, the Wyrmwood universe seems to be taken from a fantastic Australian dystopian comic. And the direction of Kiah Roache-Turner (on his debut!) makes us suspend our disbelief with wonderful ease. The hand-camera, the abrupts dolly ins, the fish eyes, all designed without being annoyingly shaky puts the viewer in pure tension, connected with the action at all times.
What's Your Rating For Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead?
Wyrmwood is probably the most Australian movie ever created about zombies. No, there are no zombie koalas or kangaroos boxing with the undead. Wyrmwood makes its Uber-Australian version of the zombie apocalypse organically with no need to force jokes or cliché elements into the script.
But yes, there are Australian aborigines, a constant visual reference to Mad Max, the Australian outback, the thick dialect of its protagonists and even a sharp boomerang that is used as a weapon towards the end of the story. There are also subtle mockery of the stereotype. When one of the characters is mortally wounded, he asks for the first aid kit, which only contains beer.
The characters adapt to the hostile environment, improving their weapons, helmets, and vehicles, while the movie slowly leaves the modern day setting and becomes an apocalyptic wasteland where cars now require the blood and breath of zombies to function. The production design (characters, gadgets, and vehicles) are memorable and contribute a lot to the film.
During almost the entire film, it isn't clear who the main character is. Only in the last act, when the separate stories come together on the same journey, is it clear that this was always the story of siblings Barry and Brooke. And incredibly, it works. The frenetic pace of each tale makes every minute the most engaging possible.
Wyrmwood is one of the most rock-and-roll, badass zombie movies ever made. And the fact that it was created with a minimum budget in a space of four years with work only being done on the film on weekends makes the effort more admirable.
Title: Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead
Release Year: 2014
Director(s): Kiah Roache-Turner
Actors: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey, Leon Burchill, a.o.
© 2019 Sam Shepards