Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

Dir: Kiah Roache-Turner
Star: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey, Leon Burchill, Berryn Schwerdt

A couple of interesting ideas here in the Aussie zombie film, though not sure either of them make much actual sense. First, there's the idea that, with injections of zombie blood, a telepathic link can occur, allowing a human to control the zombies' action. Okay... I can just about get my head around that one. Oh, and liquid fuels like petrol have ceased to be effective, but it's alright, because you can capture the fumes breathed out by the walking dead, and use them to power your vehicles and other devices instead. So, moving rap... WHAAAAAT? Can we just go over that again? It's as if the makers couldn't decide whether to make a zombie film or a Mad Max one, so needed to come up with a scenario which would let them do both. I guess, on that basis, it succeeds, and it is probably a bit silly to be questioning whether specific plot elements in a film about the zombie apocalypse "make sense." Still, you need to suspend your disbelief a bit more than usual, even if the gusto with which they go into this does help to paper over some of the cracks.

Otherwise, it's more or less standard fare. Barry (Gallagher), a mechanic living in a small Australian town along with his wife and daughter, gets a panicked phone call in the middle of the night from his sister, Brooke (Bradey), telling them to get out as soon as possible, because people are turning into the usual flesh-rending maniacs. They flee; unfortunately, it isn't long before they run into worse trouble. Barry teams up with Benny (Burchill) in his efforts to reach Brooke's studio, unaware that she has been captured by a mad scientist (Schwerdt), who is carrying out experiments because... Because... Because he's a mad scientist, okay? Barry and Benny hole up in a garage with other survivors, who discover the fuel situation, and then ride out in their zombie-powered truck, only to bump into Doc's forces, still roaming the land looking for subjects. There's another twist: the dead only give off their fuel in the day.

Yeah, I was rolling my eyes by this stage, since it's certainly guilty of trying too hard to be original, admittedly a lesser crime than not trying hard enough. Gallagher makes for a decent hero, and the approach taken here is close to Romero, in that your fellow humans are potentially a bigger threat to your survival than the cannibalistic fiends. Yet the script needed to be more methodical, taking the audience with it to arrive at the desired situations, instead of just dropping us in there and sauntering off, yelling "Deal with it!" It's just too lazy an approach to scripting, and while I did certainly appreciate and enjoy a good number of other aspects here, the lack of rigour in the storyline proves seriously detrimental.

[July 2015]

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