Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2015)

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead
A review by Nalini Haynes

Director: Kiah Roache-Turner
Writers: Kiah Roache-Turner (screenplay), Tristan Roache-Turner (screenplay)
Stars: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey, Leon Burchill

Spoilers, Sweetie

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is an Australian zombie movie created with volunteers, crowdsourcing and government funding.

Opening scene: guys dressed in American-style football armor shooting zombies while they hook a 4WD and drag it inside a shed. This scene was a sudden bloody introduction, so much so that I took my glasses off so all I could see were the pretty colors blurred on the screen.

No, I’m not into zombie stories nor, indeed, what I classify as ‘real’ horror. Wyrmwood is ‘real’ horror in my opinion.

When the title came up and I couldn’t read it, I put my glasses back on. After all, I can hardly review a movie if I can’t see any of it, right?

After the initial zombie confrontation, Benny (Leon Burchill) talks to the screen, telling us how it happened for him. He was camping with a couple of guys, watching meteors in the sky (Day of the Triffids, anyone?). The next day, one of Benny’s mates is brutally murdered. By the other one. Benny flees. With some comic horror.

Support-group style, Benny asks Barry (Jay Gallagher) to tell his story. Barry says he killed his wife and daughter and there’s no way to tell that as a story. Then we see what happened.

Brooke (Bianca Bradey) is a kick-ass chick making a movie in a shed about a horror creature then her friend turns into the creature for reals and murders their mutual friend. Brooke kicks and punches, escaping to the rafter. Because little aluminum sheds have rafters. For safety reasons. Like safety during the zombie apocalypse.

Some dudes fully kitted out in military-style zombie apocalypse gear charge in, take down the zombie then test Brooke to see if she’s still human. They SEEM to be a rescue squad — until they knock her unconscious and she wakes in “Dexter’s” blood-spattered van.

“Dexter” — called only “Doctor” on IMDB — is a dancing, prancing lunatic conducting experiments. We’re not told his backstory, why he’s doing what he’s doing (other than a very late-story comment about saving the human race), how he got started the day after the zombie apocalypse, how he got tactical support for trapping humans nor why he’s a creepy dancing lunatic.

This is where the spoilers really kick in, Sweetie.

The tactical support isn’t immune to the airborne zombie virus but there’s no explanation for why they didn’t turn.

Those immune to the airborne zombie virus aren’t immune to a zombie bite.

It gets… more interesting.

Zombies are mostly the shambling kind but sometimes they’re World War Z fast zombies. Turns out, they absorb fuel at night to be fast. But some nighttime zombies are fast and others shamble.

Spoilers are spoilerific. If you’re going to see the movie, DO NOT read ahead.

Right from the start, zombies breathe a disgusting gas. In the beginning, they breathe this AT NIGHT. This is important because LATER they don’t breathe it out at night, they absorb the gassy goodness for extry speed. However, during the day, the zombies breathe this gas out THAT CAN BE USED FOR FUEL.

This is discovered after petrol, kerosene and something else puts out flame instead of being ignited. This didn’t happen immediately after the zombie apocalypse; it was a few days later. After Barry gets on the road, that road running through the bush-land NOWHERE that is FILLED with zombies. Orly? That many zombies should only be in a town or city. I digress.

Petrol turns to, iunno, water or something. Then some zombie blood spontaneously combusts. Afterwards, zombie breath is used for fuel, zombies don’t spontaneously combust themselves (ever), but sometimes they’ll light up when shot and sometimes not.

Apparently the all-terrain-anti-zombie mobile has a flammable roof. Ignited by, you guessed it, a zombie that had been shot.

Gender and race

Brooke was kick-ass although she was dressed for the male gaze with a bra-top under a tank top showing cleavage. I think Brooke’s opening scene — 3 women making a movie — may have lifted Wyrmwood to a passing grade for the Bechdel Test.

Benny is an Australian Aborigine. Overall I felt ambivalent about Benny’s portayal: sometimes he was great, at others he was comic relief to the strong white guy. Typically the black guy dies first; not in Wyrmwood. Typically the black guy dies nobly saving the white guy. No comment. At least an Australian movie featured an Aborigine.

The non-spoilery summary

No animals were harmed making this movie. No animals were IN this movie. Much to the minion’s disappointment, Wyrmwood didn’t even feature zombie drop-bears although this was an EXCELLENT time for their movie debut.

I could go on. Suffice to say that Wyrmwood got off to a strong start before the first half of the movie became Star-Trek-plot-hole-ridden. The second half of the movie was Steven-Moffat-Doctor-Who-plot-hole-ridden.

Wyrmwood started out seemingly as a serious horror story. It had potential. Then it wavered, opting for cheesy horror instead. Having read lots of CJ’s reviews applauding cheesy horror movies (girl loves Sharknado, FFS) I understand there’s a huge market for cheesy horror. I felt Wyrmwood missed its mark because it doesn’t opt for the over-the-top cheese topped with cheesy dialogue. However, one of the best laughs was the first Mad Max-esque scene.

If you love zombie movies for the shambling, the double-taps and the blood, Wyrmwood has this stockpiled. If you think zombie heads exploding with splashes of blood like red-filled water balloons is funny, you’ll wet yourself laughing.

I’m giving Wyrmwood 3 stars.

Rating: full starfull starfull starEmpty starEmpty star 3 out of 5 stars