Ah, the zombie film. Is there any horror subgenre more oversaturated these days? Much like the zombies themselves the films seem to be everywhere, shambling along with little change or innovation as the concept is resurrected time and again with similar, diminishing returns. As the zombie subgenre has become more and watered down with mainstream films like World War Z and Warm Bodies (zombie rom-com, seriously?) I’ve started to feel like we’ll never get back to the kind of brutal, badass action that made the zombie films great in the first place. That was until I saw Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead.
The film plays out in non-linear format following several survivors of a recent and sudden apocalyptic zombie outbreak in Australia. After losing his family in the outbreak, Barry (Jay Gallagher) eventually teams up with fellow survivors Benny (Leon Burchill) and Frank (Keith Agius) on a quest to find his sister Brooke (Bianca Brady).
Wyrmwood succeeds where so many others have failed because it knows exactly what a zombie film should be and gets right down to business. The story is fast-paced, gory and brutal but with enough innovative concepts, like zombies as a fuel source (!), to set it apart from the shambling masses of mediocrity. There’s just enough character development so that you understand and empathize with the survivors without taking away from or slowing down the plot. Added to this are the pitch-perfect performances from the indie cast and a strong visual style from director Kiah Roache-Turner which elevate the film well above it’s shockingly low budget of $160,000.
Does Wyrmwood have a mind-blowing storyline that will change the face of cinema as we know it? No, but it never claimed to and it achieves exactly what it set out to do which is create a fun, visceral ride that hits all the marks needed for a classic post-apocalyptic zombie thrill ride, homemade armor, tricked out battle car, exploding heads, etc. It also boasts fantastic cinematography that ranges from drab, washed out scenes to ones bursting with rich color which lend to the film’s unique style. All in all a superb film, seriously deserving cult classic status, that proves there is still some life left in the rotten heart of the zombie subgenre after all.