Wyrmwood is a movie about the zombie apocalypse (as many movies are these days). It follows two main plot threads. First off, we have Barry (Jay Gallagher) who teams up with various travelers trying to survive in this new world. All the while Barry feels profound remorse and guilt over having had to put a few nails in the heads of his newly-undead wife and child. The story goes in a very Mad Max–esque direction and that os what immediately drew me into this picture. The cast gears up in sporting equipment and makeshift armor and piles into a modded out truck that uses zombies as its’ fuel source (just go with it).
While this is all going on, Barry’s sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) has been captured by some kind of military experiment involving zombies and a crazy scientist in a hazmat suit. As she is chained to a wall she slowly begins to develop the ability to control zombies through some sort of telepathy or telekinesis or something (again, just go with it).
Here is where I take a bit of an issue. This movie seems like it’s at odds with itself and confused as to what it wants to be. It feels like screenwriters Kiah Roache-Turner and Tristan Roache-Turner had two ideas for a zombie movie and instead of choosing one and running with it they tried to do both at the same time. Either story is interesting enough to carry the film, but I wish they had picked one or the other, because both of them are underdeveloped. Characters in Barry’s story often get killed off before we learn anything about them and a lot of the details of the zombie fuel thing are left unexplained. Why did all of the regular gas stop working? Why are the zombies suddenly breathing and bleeding fuel? It’s the same way with Brooke’s story. There are vague allusions to a higher purpose, but we never really know what the military experiment was meant to accomplish. The plot raises too many questions to which we never get answers.
Script issues aside, the core cast of Wyrmwood is great. Jay Gallagher steals the show as Barry, going to some real extremes over the course of the movie. He’s a blast to watch as guilt turns to anger and he starts to take out his frustrations on the unsuspecting zombie population. Seriously, there are moments where he just runs right up to them and punches them in the face. Having started the movie off in a very dark place it’s great to see him just let loose. Leon Bruchill’s Benny plays off of Barry really well and they have some nice banter at times. Bianca Bradley as Brooke is tough as nails even before the zombie superpowers kick in. She’s badass and always engaging to watch, which is impressive considering how much of the movie she spends with a muzzle on her face while she’s tied to a wall.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Berryn Schwerdt as the doctor. I have no idea what his character was doing but oh man is he entertaining. This doctor is dancing to music while sticking syringes in zombies and chewing up the scenery all over his laboratory. He’s an over-the-top caricature, but it really works.
Kiah Roache-Turner shows some real promise in the director’s chair as well. Wyrmwood can be a little rough around the edges at times, but for the most part it’s a really good looking movie. There’s some of the dreaded “shaky cam,” but it’s never done to an obnoxious degree and always serves to accent the chaos of the situation. There’s definitely an eye for color here, too. Some scenes are lit in a saturated and exaggerated way while others are void of color entirely. All of this sets an interesting mood throughout the picture.
Ultimately, I liked this movie. It’s definitely in that “style over substance” camp, but sometimes that’s enough. The script is all over the place throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you, and while that can be a little off-putting in certain regards it also makes for a hell of an experience. If they had ironed out some of the plot issues this could have been a great movie, but as it stands it’s a good one. Wyrmwood is a fun and humorous adventure that doesn’t take itself incredibly seriously but still manages to squeeze in some really dark and emotional moments. It’s left open for a sequel so who knows… maybe we’ll get the answers to those questions some day. You can check it out for yourself in select theaters and VOD February 13, 2015!
WICKED RATING: [usr 6]
Director(s): Kiah Roache-Turner
Writer(s): Kiah Roache-Turner, Tristan Roache-Turner
Stars: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey, Leon Burchill
Release: February 13, 2015
Studio/Production Co: Guerilla Films
Length: 98 Minutes