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Overall Rating
4

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look75%
Just Average: 12.5%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 0%

1 review, 2 user ratings


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Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead
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by Jay Seaver

"Zombies are the living dead - and rocket fuel."
4 stars

SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: It's no bad thing, I say, that "Wyrmwood" feels like a season's worth of an eventful TV series packed into an hour and a half; it's an exhausting ride at times, but there's not ten or fifteen minutes anywhere in the movie that don't come across as exciting or have at least one really cool thing in them. Though making it over four years surely has brothers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner ready to take a break for a while, it's one of the rare movies where the audience's inevitable requests for a sequel seems like a great idea.

Things kick off quickly, with a light in the sky and something in the air kicking off a zombie apocalypse that quickly decimates Australia, leaving is with a manageable number of initial survivors: Mechanic Barry (Jay Gallagher), his wife Annie (Catherine Terracini), and daughter Meganne (Meganne West); good-natured aborigine Benny (Leon Burchill); crusty middle-aged tinkerer Frank (Keith Agius); and Barry's sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey), whom the others will spend much of the movie trying to track down. Trouble is, she's already been found by some military types and a mad scientist (Berryn Schwerdt), who are never as helpful as one would hope in this sort of crisis.

Director Kiah Roache-Turner and brother/co-writer Tristan start things off with a flash-forward that establishes a tone of raucous action, which may be a little overdone as a device but is also a bit nice to have in the back of one's pocket when events take a turn toward the Walking Dead-variety "unbearable price of survival" misery factory. That doesn't last too terribly long; the Roache-Turners are soon getting past the point in the middle where it starts to run down a bit - in addition to the justifiably-depressed hero, there's a little too much "evil government/business eager to kill the remains of an already reduced population" on the other side with little in between - keeping just enough of that edge around to push everyone through the end.

Around that, the movie is packed with action, starting at a quick pace even after it has jumped back to the beginning and not letting up for the first half hour, but saving the really crazy things for later. Great fun is had injecting a little Mad Max DNA into another familiar genre, and the filmmakers even manage switching up between fast and slow zombies without it ever feeling like they are cheating. The various other twists on the zombie material tend to be entertainingly nuts, full of absurdity that is good for a laugh - it takes a bit of work to justify "zombies as rocket fuel" to oneself - but which also allows for creative action. The filmmakers can stage a fight well enough, with plenty of blood and nasty deaths, but it's the fact that what happens next might be a little out of the ordinary - or a great deal out of the ordinary - that makes things exciting.

The audience gets to follow an enjoyable group through the action, the sort that grows on the audience quickly. And while one night initially expect the movie to be built around family, a lot of the fun comes from how Barry and Benny play off each other. Jay Gallagher lets a fair amount of weight rest on Barry without necessarily becoming grindingly intense when it would wear the audience out, and tends to look like he knows what he's doing during the action scenes. Leon Burchill serves not just as the comic relief but as the guy who is charged with swinging the pendulum back toward the movie being fun and punchy rather than dour. He's great at selling jokes built around Benny being kind of a goof, if an enthusiastic one, in the middle of an apocalypse without undercutting the fact that there's real danger going on.

On the other side, it's kind of a shame that Brooke spends a big chunk of the movie as a prisoner, because Bianca Bradey grabs the screen whenever given the chance, even if she has to do it while tied to something or trying to make things happen with a grimace. I'm hoping to see more of her. She gets to spend a lot of time playing off Berryn Schwerdt, playing to the balconies as a textbook mad scientist. Luke McKenzie is a bit more restrained as the military type who becomes Barry's foe, but it's not the sort of movie where you necessarily want the villains to do much to upstage the heroes.

It's hard believe this is only about an hour and a half long; it gets the audience settled in quickly and then packs multiple movies' worth of crazy action into what it's got. Given how homogeneous zombie stories can be, it's a heck of an accomplishment that I want more of this one, specifically, as soon as I can get it.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=27725&reviewer=371
originally posted: 10/14/14 22:32:19
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Fantastic Fest For more in the 2014 Fantastic Fest series, click here.

User Comments

8/15/15 mr.mike Non-stop action and gore. What's not to love? 5 stars
2/16/15 Langano Not bad. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  13-Feb-2015
  DVD: 04-Aug-2015

UK
  N/A

Australia
  13-Feb-2015




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