Kiah Roache-Turner’s apocalyptic Wyrmwood is a small movie with a big heart, mixing both new and old elements of the undead into a world reminiscent of something conjured up by George Miller. After his life is torn apart on the night of the zombie apocalypse, Barry (Jay Gallagher) sets out to rescue his sister from a small army of gas mask wearing soldiers and a psycho-dancing doctor.
Wyrmwood’s shoot first, ask questions later mentality is what really fuels Roache-Turner’s blood splattered indie as the film meanders through a simple, one-way narrative that stacks up quite the body count. And behind the carnage is the zombie-slaying mechanic, Barry, who is on the hunt to save his sister from a mysterious band of soldiers. After teaming up with Benny—a fellow survivor that he meets in hilarious fashion—they arm themselves to the teeth, killing both the living and the undead in their journey across the harsh Australian bushland.
The central point of Wyrmwood is these two guys trying to find Barry’s sister, Brooke (Bianca Bradey), who was quickly snatched up by a mad, mad scientist. While she doesn’t truly come into play until later in the story, the early scenes with her bound in a psycho-doctor’s lab was some of the best the film has to offer. And although her eventual character arc is completely insane, she brought something new to the genre that we’ve never seen before, and I really dug that. We’re really just asked to roll with the punches—especially with Brooke—because there isn’t a whole lot of explaining going on in Wyrmwood, it’s all about having fun and killing a lot of zombies.
But where I think this one struggles is its inability to actually tell us what’s going on. The entire reason for the zombie apocalypse is brushed over (at best) and spends no more than a blink of an eye in trying to explain it. The same can be said about our characters, most of which are pretty one-dimensional and just thrown into this whirlwind of a situation. The bad guys—our mad scientist and gas mask wearing soldiers—just exist to be bad with no real motivation behind what they’re doing; at least not one that is explained in the film, anyway.
That said, the film is great about introducing us to Roache-Turner’s apocalyptic world, one that happens to be overrun by flesh-eating zombies, as it hits hard and fast from the very beginning. And while the who, what and why’s of the story take a back seat in Wyrmwood, there’s an undeniable indie charm to this one that makes for an entertaining enough little ride. There are dozens of these low budget zombie movies crawling out of the grave every month it seems, so it’s nice to finally see one that just gets it.
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