It seems like we have seen new life breathed into some of the classic genres due to new perspectives and ideas from other countries. Australia totally revolutionized the apocalyptic genre with Mad Max while British filmmakers have totally revived the zombie genre with films like 28 Days Later and Shawn of the Dead. So, it’s no surprise that a wonderful blend of the two would come from a pair of Australian brothers. Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead brings a fresh telling of the zombie outbreak by bring the things we love about these genres and cutting out the things we don’t while paying homage to those that came before along the way.
The plot to Wyrmwood is pretty simple. After a comet passes by the Earth many survivors become victims of a disease that turn them into zombies (homage to Night of the Comet). One survivor, Barry, survives the Australian wilderness with his sister Brooke until she gets kidnapped by a military doctor that likes to experiment on the living as well as zombies. Barry and his friends plan a rescue which involves a lot of car chases reminiscent of Mad Max all the while fighting zombies along the way while also having to fight to get his sister from the government abductors. It is at this point that a number of unique lot changes occur. One, is that Barry discovers that zombie blood is combustible and can be used as fuel (it is not as silly as it might sound) and the other is that the experiments leave Brooke with the ability to telepathically control zombies. Now, Barry and friends can use the zombies to their own benefit and save themselves from zombies and government scientists alike.
There are a lot of really great things that this movie gets right. For a budget under $200,000 the director, Kiah Roache-Turner, makes great use of every dollar. The sets, costumes, and special effects are used very well (though some CGI effects are noticeable). The first-time director uses a lot of creative shots, angles, and edits to great effect and it all really comes together nicely. Hollywood studios should really take notice that budget is not nearly as important as talent. The film does a good job balancing action, gore (of which there is plenty), and even humor. It is by no means a comedy but does have very funny little gems that allow you a chance to break from the gore without interrupting or hurting the movie. Most importantly, Wyrmwood manages to make you care about what happens to the characters. This is had to do in this genre of film where we mostly just countdown who gets killed next. We get genuinely invested in Barry and his friends and want to see him succeed. It also doesn’t hurt that the pacing is at breakneck speed so there’s pretty much no chance to get bored. All around, Wyrmwood manages to take old ideas and make them new again.
Wyrmwood is presented in 1080p resolution with an Aspect Ratio of 1.78:1. The clarity of the images is superb. You can see tiny details from individual drops of blood to tiny scratches on weapons and equipment that add a level of realism to the whole movie. The blacks are very sharp and clear while colors seem to have an intentional over-exposed quality that some describe as “dreamlike.” Flesh details are incredibly clear and you can see individual freckles, scars, wrinkles and levels of detail we’re really not used to seeing. I did not notice any problems as far as distortion, scratches or other artifacts. It’s an amazingly clean transfer.
- Audio Commentary With The Roache-Turner Brothers
- The Wyrmdiaries: Behind The Scenes Of WYRMWOOD Featurette
- Crowdfunding Videos: Wyrmwood Production Pitch
- Deleted Scenes
- 7-Minute Teaser Scene
- Storyboards By The Director
- Theatrical Trailer
Overall, Wyrmwood is a fun movie that may not be for everybody but will certainly speak to a broad swath of horror fans. Fans of zombie movies will really enjoy the gore and special effects and might even like the added twist of finding a way to use zombies to an advantage. Fans of apocalyptic films are going to enjoy the Mad Max aesthetic of the vehicles and sets and general feel of the movie. There’s not really an easy way to describe this, but there is something uniquely Australian about the movie that’s hard to describe. The only downside some might find is the accent but it’s not really enough to take away from the film and with a film that relies so heavily on action, car chases, and zombies it becomes less important in a film like this. I recommend it for a fun, gory time.
Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is available from Scream Factory on Tuesday, August 4th
Fun Fact: Wyrmwood was filmed entirely on weekends and took four years to complete.