If you feel the current cinematic climate is oversaturated and overrun with hordes of undying zombie flicks and television shows then you’d be correct. Many of you may be satiated by the ‘z’ word by now, but if you value unique, fresh and creative ways of manipulating the conventions and representations of the undead on celluloid, then we’d like to present you with a flat-out bonkers new vision from some seriously enthusiastic and dedicated young Australian filmmakers.
Wyrmwood is the Australian answer to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead and Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste. It’s a trashy, fast-paced, unapologetically Australian gore-fest that oozes energy and an undying love for the genre. It was also made on the smell of an oily rag. Maybe even less than that.
The film begins by following the typical norms of the genre. People slowly turn. They begin eating other people. Families are torn apart (literally). A select few avoid becoming lunch and band together to survive the coming apocalypse. When the initial splatter fest subsides momentarily we’re left with Barry (Jay Gallagher), Benny (Leon Burchill) and ex-biker Frank (Keith Agius) who all agree to go after Barry’s kidnapped sister, Brooke (Bianca Bradey).
This is when the familiarity dies off and the filmmakers reveal their absurdly ingenious creative hand.
Enter a Mad Max-inspired zombie-fuelled vehicle of death. George Miller must be so proud.
Needing something to differentiate themselves from every other corpse-filled saga, Wyrmwood kicks into an entirely different gear of gleefully silly insanity when the boys discover that they can farm zombies to power their souped-up HiLux across the Australian outback.
Brooke on the other hand discovers something oddly unique about herself too. She is a zombie-whisperer with undead-ESP, which results in some wonderfully amusing and sweet comeuppance for the guys who decided to kidnap her.
Not everything in the film works or has the necessary polish to avoid disbelief, but that’s half the fun of it. The reflection of the DSLR, steadicam and operator on the car door, reminds us that this is a work of love, without studio support and technical wizardry.
The film was shot on weekends over the course of 3 years, with another year needed for post production work. Most of the props, costumes and vehicles were purchased on eBay and then modified by mates in the front yard of the filmmaker’s houses.
Brothers Kiah and Tristan’s dedication to boasting some life into our stale and disappointingly mishandled Australian film industry is beyond admirable. It’s something that needs to be celebrated on a huge and very public scale.
The film screams “Australia” and considering the amount of mateship that went on behind the scenes to give this product life, Australian horror fans need to support this film far and wide when screenings are eventually made available.
The Babadook proved we could compete with atmospheric and psychological horror. Wyrmwood proves we can rip the genre apart and stamp our own bloody footprints into its DNA.
Keep an eye on Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner. We need these guys making films for the rest of us Aussie genre fans.
THE VERDICT: 3/5
Genre: Ozploitation, Action, Adventure, Zombie, Horror, Road Movie
Starring: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey, Leon Burchill, Luke McKenzie, Yure Covich, Keith Agius
Directed by: Kiah Roache-Turner
Written by: Kiah Roache-Turner, Tristan Roache-Turner
Running time: 98 minutes