Director – Kiah Roache-Turner
Cast – Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey, Leon Burchill, Keith Agius, Berynn Schwerdt, Luke McKenzie, Cain Thompson
Release Year – 2015
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Australia has proven itself as a country we can rely on for good horror. It seems that just about every year or so there is an Aussie flick that wows the genre, and for 2015 that film is Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead. The story is a simple one that is executed with direction that possibly makes this the most “fun” zombie film of recent time. Heavy in gore, violence, and supplemented with a few colorful characters, this is a must-watch for those wanting an entertaining zombie experience.
Barry’s life is turned upside down when he loses his family to a sudden zombie apocalypse. Desperate to locate his sister, the talented mechanic embarks on the road and with the help of a few survivors, lays waste to a secretive agency holding her captive.
I take it Australians love road warriors? First there was Mad Max, now we have Barry using his particular set of skills to ride the road and kill all who come between him and his sister. The story takes off quickly, following Barry as the zombie apocalypse hits and he is forced to take his family and hit the road. Tragedy strikes and he loses his wife and child, and if it weren’t for his nail gun running out of nails he would have taken his own life in that moment. Instead, he comes across armed Samaritan survivors willing to help him search for his only remaining relative, his sister Brooke. The second act is a long one and is the most enjoyable act in the film. We watch as Barry and his new-found friends travel the countryside killing zombies and surviving some harrowing ordeals along the way. I loved that the zombies loomed around every corner, which made for a multitude of deaths for the viewer to enjoy. The protagonists are not free from death either, and we watch likable characters die in sometimes-glorious fashion. This adventurous trek is what made the film to fun to me, as it allowed me to put myself in their situation and imagine how I would handle it. I am always pleased any time a film can engage me that way. At the same time, the story is also being told, to a lesser extent, from Brooke’s point of view. We are left in the dark over why a militant force has captured her and what exactly a crazed scientist plans to do to her, but eventually her brother finds her and all hell breaks loose for the third act.
The story is a basic rescue mission with a hint of adventure and lots of zombies. It isn’t a thinker and never tries to be. Instead, the creative elements come from the direction. I wasn’t into it at first, but the frontal cinematography Tim Nagle grew on me and it played a large role in my enjoyment of the film. He leaves you feeling like you are there with them, amidst the chaos, without this ever being a POV film. Director Kiah Roache-Turner did well with the zombies, giving them a good look and employing live gore when he could. Regardless, the gore is plentiful. I will say that I did not like the sounds the zombies made, but in the end it wasn’t enough to ruin the experience for me. He gets good performances from his living actors and executed them pretty well. Jay Gallagher was solid as Barry and brought with him the right amount of badassery mixed in with being an average Joe that viewers can relate to. Roache-Turner’s execution of the horror overall was great, giving us lots of tense scenes that left the protagonists face to face with horrors I enjoyed seeing.
Overall, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is an action-packed zombie film from down-under that is sure to please zombie fans looking for something simple but effective. The gore is heavy, the cinematography is slick, and the film rarely slows down.