Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead
Ingenious Australian zombie flick from Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner
This crowdfunded zombie flick, cooked up by Aussie siblings Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner, features some surprising supernatural twists. The pair’s intention to produce a hybrid of Mad Max and Dawn of the Dead results in an enthusiastic and enterprising horror that gleefully spurts fake blood from every available orifice.
Kicking straight into the action with all guns blazing, we are introduced to those fleeing the zombie apocalypse as they are forced to kill off family members and friends in order to survive. In an attempt to save his sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) from infection, mechanic Barry (Jay Gallagher) heads off on a road trip and along the way meets some interesting companions.
There’s as much bloodletting here as in, say, The Walking Dead. The kill-rate is high and yet the brothers also allow time for their characters to get in touch with their emotions. And, although an element of torture horror is added to the mix, this pleasingly plays out in an unpredictable manner. It's not all well-judged though; a night-time scene where the group get trapped in their car starts off promisingly but, just as the tension begins to build, a quick cut to action breaks the atmosphere. A little more confidence in their characters' back-stories also would not have gone amiss.
But the Roache-Turner brothers' amusing debut (written and directed by Kiah, with Tristan co-writing) is brimming with ideas: at the centre is an overriding ecological message and it also decries human rights violations. Their comment on the depletion of the earth’s resources inspires a truly brilliant Scrapheap Challenge-like moment that Robert Llewellyn would be proud of.
The prosthetic makeup from Lisa Cotterill and her team is magnificent, making this gory mash-up a real treat for zombie enthusiasts. Despite Wyrmwood never quite matching up to the films it emulates, it's often ingenious, with a passion for the sub-genre that's genuinely infectious.
Selected release from Fri 8 May.