is an ongoing fan debate whether zombies should be fast or slow. A recent
Australian film manages to have it both ways. Its zombies are slow during the
day, but fast at night. Why? During the day they exhale highly combustible
zombie breath, but at night they retain it as super-charging zombie fuel. If
you’re wondering how this works biologically, don’t ask me. I’m not the Mr.
Wizard of zombies. Just accept it. After all, the zombie apocalypse survivors
have to deal with it in Kiah & Tristan Roache-Turner’s Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (trailer here), which opens this
weekend as part of Sinister Cinema at Cineplex Yonge & Dundas up north.
night, most of the world just up and turned into zombies. Only those with the
right blood type live to experience the horrors. For some reason, fossil fuels
like gasoline also stopped igniting, making getaways even trickier. Brooke
manages to phone her brother Barry to warn him, but alas, he still has to cap his
beloved wife and child. The despondent Barry will take refuge with Benny, an easy-going
Aboriginal dude, a resourceful old-timer named Frank, and another dude you
shouldn’t get too attached to.
the horrific circumstances of his bereavement, Barry is still in a better
position than Brooke, who is kidnapped by a sadistic hazmat-suited emergency
research team. As a result of the disco-crazed mad scientist’s experiments, Brooke
gains telepathic control over zombiekind. Things look bad for her nonetheless,
but Barry and his fox-hole partners will head out on the highway looking for
her, once they figure out how to harness the power of zombie breath.
Wyrmwood has some truly wacky
ideas, but that is a good thing. Arguably, their zombie physiology is truly
innovative within the shuffling dead canon. However, the ridiculously cruel scientist
and his paramilitary associates are a bit of a tired cliché. Aren’t movie
people supposed to be “pro-science?” Yet, they constantly invite us to cheer
for the Luddite troglodytes whenever they bash scientists’ big, arrogant brains
in with a tire-iron.
the zombie mayhem is executed with high energy and the survivors’ bickering
rapport somehow lures viewers into an emotional investment. The hat-tipping to
the Mad Max and Living Dead franchises is also wryly amusing. Even though she has
the more problematic narrative arc, Bianca Bradey is poised for geek
superstardom with an outside chance of mainstream breakout potential after her
action-oriented, screen-commanding turn as Brooke. She is nobody’s victim, that’s
Shot over several years, Wyrmwood is the sort of scrappy micro-budget underdog you have to
root for. Suitably gory and just tongue-in-cheek enough to lighten the
post-apocalyptic mood without getting excessive goofy, it serves up the sort of
red meat fans crave. A heck of a calling card, it should be the start of something
big for the Roache-Turner Brothers. Recommended for Zombie fans, Wyrmwood opens tomorrow (6/19) as a
Sinister Cinema presentation at Cineplex Yonge & Dundas.
Labels: Australian cinema, Sinister Cinema, Zombies