Wyrmwood (2014, 92 mins)
Australian films seemed to be a hit at this year’s TADFF with films like Housebound and the much-anticipated The Babadook, so when I heard about Wyrmwood, I was all in. Described as Mad Max with zombies, I really couldn’t pass this one up, and I’m glad I didn’t. It is definitely a different take on the post-apocalyptic zombie film, and one I think action movie fans will enjoy.
Similar to the aftermath of a falling star from the Book of Revelations, a weird stellar event creates zombies that run amok in the surrounding Australian countryside and cities. Family man Barry (Jay Gallagher) has to scramble to save his wife and daughter, and after an urgent call, sets out on a quest to find his sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey). He meets up with other survivors, including the kooky Benny (Leon Burchill), in very tense circumstances, and they band together to battle zombies that emit strange green fumes and become more active at night. They realize these zombies can be of great use, and their larger purpose is also being discovered by a dancing mad scientist played by Berryn Schwerdt, who has captured Brooke and uses her as a guinea pig. Little does he know that Brooke will exceed his expectations. Both siblings have their trials to deal with before they can ever think of reuniting, and things stay consistently hairy until the bitter end.
The After Dark team let the audience know that this film took a long time-several years actually-to finish, and the end result is a pretty crazy ride. Mixed in with some brutal action and zombie kills, there are also some decent laughs to be had along the way, the most memorable punctuated by the literal Benny. His goofy observations are backed with a lot of heart and heroics that make him unforgettable, and it is always nice to see some much-needed diversity in horror films. And the kick-ass Brooke is one of the most unique final girls ever. Talk about girl power, and she sports possibly the best smokey eye for zombie killing I have ever, ever seen!
I only had one issue with the film. I would have loved a back story about the mad scientist, billed as “The Doctor”. He was one of the more compelling characters and I can’t resist a great bad guy. I wondered if his home base lab came equipped with a disco ball or whether he was wearing a ruffled disco shirt under his haz-mat suit. I call for a prequel starring The Doctor and the gorgeous Captain played by Luke McKenzie, who battles Barry in the film’s final act.
For the die-hard, jaded zombie movie fan, I think Wyrmwood will be a pleasant surprise. It breaks convention with tons of action and an inventive storyline. Definitely worth a watch!
*If you have a keen interest in Australian film, check out Curnblog. There is a 5 part series listing the top 100 Australian films of all time, and it is excellent!