DVD REVIEW: WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: KIAH ROACHE-TURNER / SCREENPLAY: KIAH ROACHE-TURNER, TRISTAN ROACHE-TURNER / STARRING: JAY GALLAGHER, BIANCA BRADLEY, LEON BURCHILL, LUKE MCKENZIE / RELEASE DATE: MAY 11TH
Following a stream of foreboding shooting stars, life in the Australian outback is turned on its head as everyone wakes up to find their friends and neighbours have turned into screeching flesh-eating zombies. But not all have succumbed. Sensing that a foul stench has filled the air, mechanic Barry tools up and hurls gasmasks onto his wife and daughter before making a break into the bush while his similarly ill-fated sister Brooke fights for survival in a barn filled with the evil dead. As both siblings struggle for survival, the living and the undead do their best to make the end of days as barbaric and bloody as possible.
While the story may sound familiar, director Kiah Roache-Turner adopts the Australian rules approach by sticking his survivors in full apocalyptic body armour and creating as much damage as possible while throwing in some hilariously typical Ozzie traits too. Sitting somewhere between Resident Evil and Mad Max, Wyrmwood (named after the falling star that heralds the rapture) punches the accelerator hard and doesn’t hit the break until the final credits roll, running over a hoard of exhaust-spewing zombies along the way.
And therein lies the most ingenious part of Roache-Turner’s zombie apocalypse: not only did the falling stars turn the living into the dead (unless you happen to have a rare blood type), but it also rendered all combustible liquids useless while at the same time turning the zombie’s blood into burnable fuel. You can see where that is going.
Wyrmwood may be lacking in certain areas, but the ballsy direction coupled with Ozzie humour, zombie engines and copious amounts of blood and gore means this is well on its way to being the best Australasian horror film to appear since Peter Jackson’s Braindead.
Perhaps the most commendable aspect of Wyrmwood is that it exists largely as a result of a crowdfunding campaign, taking around three to four years to make as the crew (who worked for nothing more than the passion of filmmaking) shot as and when they could. This prolonged period is documented in the 47-minute Wyrmwood Diaries that assembles fast-paced clips of the entire production process from initial set-up for the crowdfunding to the shoot and beyond, all of which is delivered with the same irreverent humour that burns through the veins of the film.
The original 7-minute teaser scene is also included along with two further crowdfunding videos, which laid out the filmmaker’s (brothers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner) plans for the film that they wanted to make along with a thank you video to the funders (with the siblings in full zombie make-up) asking for help with post production.
Finally storyboards accompanied by crazy ‘70s funk music can be found, along with 10 deleted scenes totaling nearly 10 minutes are also included, along with the pre-requisite Director’s Commentary which is definitely worth a listen given the nature of the production.
Special Features: Director’s commentary / Wyrmwood Diaries featurette / 7-minute teaser / Crowdfunding videos / Deleted scenes / Storyboards