Friday, August 14, 2015

#1,824. Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014) - Spotlight on Australia

Directed By: Kiah Roache-Turner

Starring: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey, Leon Burchill

Line from the film: "We need to find a zombie... fast!"

Trivia: Because it was shot only on weekends, it took four years to complete this film

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, directed by first-timer Kiah Roache-Turner (who co-wrote the screenplay with this brother Tristan), may not be the first zombie road movie ever made (Zombieland and George Romero’s Diary of the Dead leap immediately to mind), but it’s one crazy-ass film all the same!

A bizarre illness, triggered by a meteor shower, is transforming ordinary people into bloodthirsty zombies. Barry (Jay Gallagher), a mechanic from Melbourne who was forced to kill his wife Annie (Catherine Terracini) and daughter Meganne (Meganne West) when they “turned”, is one of the few not affected by the virus.

Teaming up with several other survivors, including an Aborigine named Benny (Leon Burchill) and fellow mechanic Frank (Keith Agius), Barry attempts to reach his sister Brooke (the awesome Bianca Bradey), who he thinks may be holed up in the small town of Bulla Bulla.

Unbeknownst to Barry, Brooke has been kidnapped by a military outfit, and is currently the prisoner of a sadistic doctor (Berynn Schwerdt) who is conducting a series of experiments to determine what it is that makes some people immune to the illness.

Armed to the teeth and driving a truck that runs on “zombie power” (for reasons unknown, the virus has neutralized all flammable liquids such as gasoline, while turning the infected themselves, who exhale a form of methane gas, into a fuel supply), Barry and the others attempt to track down Brooke. But will she be the same person he once knew, or have the experiments already changed her into something else entirely?

It does eventually develop a sense of humor (thanks to Benny, who adapts to this new world order with the greatest of ease), but the opening scenes of Wyrmwood are deathly serious, not to mention nerve-racking. Following an action-packed sequence in which Barry, Benny, and a few others do battle with a horde of angry infected, we’re treated to a series of flashbacks, detailing how each of the characters learned about the outbreak. Barry's memories are particularly unsettling. While asleep in their bed, he and his wife were awakened by daughter Meganne, who told them somebody was in the kitchen. Barry checked it out, and came face-to-face with a particularly hungry zombie. These scenes get Wyrmwood off to an exciting, and at times quite dramatic, start while also serving as a precursor for the insanity yet to come.

And Wyrmwood does get damn crazy after a while, due mostly to what happens to Brooke as a result of the experiments (much like Romero’s classic Day of the Dead, many of the so-called human characters in Wyrmwood are more frightening than the infected). Yet as peculiar as its later sequences are, they’re but one aspect of a film that, from start to finish, is a thrill ride drenched in blood (despite its low budget, the movie offers up some pretty impressive gore). An exciting, occasionally original horror flick, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is a nifty addition to the zombie subgenre.

No comments: