Let's admit it finally; the zombie genre needs to die....again....and again....and again. The days where zombies were a novelty are over, and part of that I blame on "The Walking Dead." And no, I'm not saying the show is bad, but it simply created the over-saturation of zombies everywhere, and to me, it's run its course as a horror fan. Here I am, of course, about to rain compliments all over a zombie film, what kind of person am I? This brings me to "Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead" yet another quality product from the Land Down Under, which also brought us "The Babadook" last year. What works in "Wyrmwood" is it's ability to be different, progressing the same old tired zombie flick, while incorporating the best from other zombie films.
Here's the skinny on this flick; The zombie outbreak has finally hit Australia and the Outback is in ruins. We have Barry and Benny, two guys trying to make it out alive, and we also have Brooke, Barry's sister, an artist who has been kidnapped by two soldiers and is being experimented on by a scientist with a penchant for KC and the Sunshine Band. Barry has been traumatized by the zombification of his wife and daughter, who he had to kill himself, while Benny is a wild and crazy Aborigine. That is the basic story, and to spoil other aspects of the film would be a disservice.
I know I said I didn't want to spoil anything, but *SPOILER BEGINS* skip ahead to the next paragraph, or better yet, skip this review for now, watch this flick, and come back and read the rest. What separates this zombie tale from others, is the way the zombies are created and what part they play in the film. While the origin of the infection is relatively tired and true (really, a meteor shower?) and the explanation a little hokey (Biblical) the actual literal fuel of the zombies is a interesting wrinkle to the genre. Basically, when the meteor show occurs, it creates an airborne event where everyone who doesn't have A Negative becomes infected and all fuel becomes useless and zombie blood becomes the new gasoline....yes, zombie blood is now fuel. It makes you wonder how someone thinks of this type of stuff, but if you are watching a zombie film, you should already be suspending enough belief. Oh, and there is also zombie telepathy. Again, who thinks of this stuff, but again, somehow it works. *SPOILER ENDS*
For genre buffs, "Wyrmwood" is the perfect example of "stealing from the best." You have the post-apocalyptic craziness of the "Mad Max" trilogy, the over the top gore of "Dead/Alive," the younger in cheekiness of "Shaun of the Dead," the screams of "Evil Dead," and the unrelenting zombie hordes of "Dawn of the Dead;" get the point? This film is every zombie lover's dream and is the proper homage to everything that has come before it. What is even more impressive is that this is director, Kiah Roache-Turner's first film and while he borrowed from the best, it's evident that he not only cares about the genre, but is also interested in expanding it and not just trying to create the same old carbon ops we've seen since 1969's "Night of the Living Dead," and "Wyrmwood" is far and away the most original and fun "zombie" film since "28 Days Later."
Bottom line, if you are looking for a take on the zombie genre that will both have you scratching your head at its ridiculousness and leave you with hope for the genre, Wyrmwood is that film. It's the perfect homage and shows that persistence and people that care can and will put on a product that fans can get behind and appreciate.
Fun Fact: The film took four years to complete since the cast could only shoot on weekends and holidays.