Wyrmwood: Apocalypse review – gnarly zombie mayhem in a mind-blowing sequel | Movie
JThe ratio of harmful infections and gruesome chaos per screen minute is an important metric for zombie movies. Although I have yet to analyze the data in a scientifically grounded way, I can confidently say that, on those merits, Wyrmwood: Apocalypse is a smash hit. The film is a perversely colorful, visually energetic, and proudly splashy sequel to its 2015 predecessor, a lean and nasty midnight movie that, while jam-packed with familiar genre elements, had a few or rare distinguishing features.
The first is simply that it was an Australian zombie movie. There were few others, including Cargo, who saw a freshly bitten Martin Freeman stumbling through outback Australia, desperately looking for someone to care for his baby before he turned as a flesh eater. And the 2003 movie Undead included perhaps the funniest line ever uttered in a zombie movie: “When I was a kid, we respected our parents, we didn’t eat them!”
The second rare element of Wyrmwood was more about how it was created than the film itself.. It arrived with an inspiring behind-the-scenes story from young artists and mad brothers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner, who self-funded the production and shot it over the weekend. The film finally found an audience – including many people who pirated it online (a bit of a mixed blessing). Now we have a sequel, which has a bigger budget, more impressive inventions, better sets and bad-ass vehicles that continue a long line of bizarro Aussie movie cars a la The Cars that Ate Paris and Mad Max.
Wyrmwood: Apocalypse throws us head-first into the action, with gnarled, blood-red opening credits accompanied by a variety of ghastly sounds. Rhys (Luke McKenzie) – the twin of a character who died in the first film – emerges from a dilapidated hiding place, surrounded by the undead, many of whom he has imprisoned to use as lab rats, pets and even as boxing sparring partner. He’s clearly a self-sufficient loner, until he reluctantly has to team up with others to rescue a half-human, half-zombie native girl, Grace (Tasia Zalar).
Rhys had delivered Grace to the villainous “Surgeon General” (Nicholas Boshier), who he believes is working on a cure for the virus. But Grace’s sister Maxi (Shantae Barnes Cowan) throws cold water on Rhys’ assumption that the people he mingles with – despite looking as bad as they come – work for the betterment of a (admittedly pulverized) society.
The Roache-Turners (with Kiah directing, writing and editing, and Tristan writing and producing) wear their genre influences on their sleeves and seem almost proud of their film’s lack of originality. . There are bitumen-licking Mad Maxian road shots and lab scenes informed by Romero’s Day of the Dead, among other things. In the final scenes, Boshier (whose work in front of and behind the camera includes Bondi Hipsters and Beached Az) carves him out as the scene-stealing Surgeon General, bringing manic, exorbitant intensity to his mad scientist persona, with pleasingly satisfying results. crazy. . One particularly entertaining scene involves this evil bastard donning a VR-esque device that allows him to operate an undead body remotely.
McKenzie delivers the kind of lead performance that doesn’t tend to get much applause – mostly because we’ve seen this character so many times before – but he brings a commanding presence. Much like Barnes Cowan, delivering a jaw-dropping performance as a Maxi: hard, gritty and zero tolerance for bullshit. Maxi and Grace would make good choices for the subjects of a spin-off film.
Kiah Roache-Turner keeps the camera moving and the cuts steady, creating a cracking energy that’s especially important for midnight movies like this, more concerned with savoring the carnage than telling a story. What matters most about the films of Ozploitation, of which this production is a spiritual descendant, is the atmosphere and the energy: watching them feels like sticking your head out the window of a speeding car. quickly. The filmmakers find a real sweet spot when they combine that feel with a great narrative – something Wyrmwood: Apocalypse lacks, even if it’s still kind of fun.