Cult found wyrmwood and didn’t make absinthe?!?
This film has been collecting quite a buzz on social media sites as of late, so when I saw it advertised for a one night (late) showing at my local 'art house' cinema I jumped at the chance to get tickets to enable me to see what all the hubbub was about... Sleep be damned! I was determined to watch it. I was hankering for something new, something different and above all else I needed a break from the tiresome duties of moving and condensing two houses crap (isn't it amazing what you can accumulate in only a few years) into a new family residence.
Wyrmwood bursts out of the gate with a feverish pace, one that's more than willing very early on to proudly cover the screen with thick sprays of blood and the grisly debris resulting from a plethora of exploding heads. One can only wonder if this like many other movies within the same genre has shot its wad even before the first glimpse of the opening credits.Four heavily armored gents scramble to pull a vehicle backwards into a garage. Two things hamper their progress somewhat, a salivating and seemingly rather impatient horde of assorted undead types (growing larger by the second) and the small groups dwindling supply of ammunition. The scene cuts leaving the group still struggling with their unfortunate dilemma.
In the next scene the audience is introduced to Benny, a native aborigine wearing a shirt (Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi! Oi! Oi!) that gave me my first unashamed smirk of the movie. While on a relaxed sojourn into the outback (not the steak establishment next to the mall) with his brother and a close chum, there's an Oz word for ya! He encounters a meteor shower lighting up the night sky. Thinking nothing of it (until a little while later) the small group continue to enjoy their environment, the calm of their surrounding and a roaring campfire until the night claims them.
Everything changes when Benny, Leon Burchill, awakens to find that his companions have disappeared leaving only a suspicious puddle of crimson to tell of their passing. After a few minutes he finds out why, catching his brother unceremoniously gnawing on the remains of the last member of the party. A moment of sibling awkwardness develops as Benny takes to the hills with his brother in close pursuit. After numerous attempts Benny resigns himself to the fact his brother can't be reasoned with or persuaded not to want to remove a tasty chunk out of his flesh using his teeth. However, as luck would have it Benny has a gun but lacks the willingness to depress the trigger with his brother in the sights.
What's a zombie movie after all but a collection of moments designed to make an audience member dwell on who they could or couldn't easily dispatch if the same circumstances arose. This is a tad different than most however because rather than use overly dramatic emotion, the film makers decided to use dark humor instead, IMO very effectively, and early on. This makes me a very happy viewer as truth be told I'm a huge fan of both Australian and New Zealand cinema found in the same comedic and often blood squirting splayed wide open vein.
In the next couple of scenes the audience is introduced to Barry, played by Jay Gallagher (a dead ringer for UFC fighter Carlos Condit sporting a more than healthy amount of facial hair) and Brooke, played by Bianca Bradley. They also happen to be siblings and although miles apart they both appear to be embroiled in their own rapidly worsening scenarios (or if you prefer, they have found themselves in an unfortunate spot of bother') though ironically with antagonists that hanker for much the same result. Barry's last few days have been spent with his family, a cheerful daughter and a loving wife. Bliss was shattered however the moment his daughter informed him there was someone in the kitchen. An uninvited guest with a vise like grip on the next day's dinner (quite rude really) a protein packed ingredient, that still very much needed the attention of a grill's searing heat, dripping juices aplenty on the kitchen tile. Barry isn't one to be fucked with and the audience soon learns that he's quite the handyman though perhaps not quite the wrestler that he believes he might be. With a belt full of tools and a devastating nail gun, doubling as weaponry, he takes to the road with his family in tow with no real destination in mind other than to get the f- outta Dodge (do they even have a 'Dodge' in Australia?) because it appears strangely infested with irritable inebriates with manners bordering on savage and tastes that range from the obscure to the cannibalistic.
Meanwhile, Brooke is hiding out in a garage/art studio. Her last few hours have spiraled rapidly out of anything resembling normalcy even in what many might perceive as that found within the parameters of a video shoot. Accompanied by an energetic pumping soundtrack the scene's vibe has transformed from playful fun camaraderie to beyond bizarre in a mere matter of moments but then changes again to bloody horrendous (pun intended). In a scene reminiscent of Sam Raimi's original Evil Dead, Brooke has managed, with the athletic ability of a rafter clambering gazelle (I'd mention a tree swinging creature as a comparison but would never want to compare her striking beauty and form to that of the attributes of a primate) to escape the grasp of her companion who wildly writhes on taut wires strung up impromptu from the ceiling. Brook escapes the situation but soon finds herself tightly restrained in the clutches of a small group of Haz-Mat suited individuals and an eccentric doctor/scientist type. With fluid, sliding and practiced movements pulled straight from a 70's John Travolta film, Saturday Night Fever, and cock sure mannerisms that would make a notable character in Adam Sandler's Happy Gilmore blush, he appears to savor his experimental duties with pleasure perhaps a tad more than is deemed necessary.
The Doc (as listed in the credits), portrayed by Berynn Schwerdt, is one of many memorable characters who each manage to steal most every scene they appear in. For fear of spoiling the film, more than I've done already, I'll briefly (also rather vaguely) mention a few more plot devices that I consider genius which only succeed in separating Wyrmwood from the huge pack of other films in the same admittedly over saturated genre. The zombies in Wrymwood are not your common garden variety staggering “I'm coming to get you Barbara” type, rather think aggressive forms with a pace close to that found within rage infected victims in 28 Days Later and you'll be somewhat close.
There's also an interesting scene with Barry still coming to terms with the soul crushing act he had recently been forced to commit when he meets another on the lonely road. Chalker (played convincingly by Yure Covich) is a helpful, relaxed and caring type though with that being said a fist fight ensues ironically with the reason being that one should refrain from the act of committing suicide even though the future looks very bleak indeed. Another thing that peaked my interest was the reasoning behind the sudden 'outbreak'. I mentioned earlier Benny's night in the outback and the lights in the sky, he spoke of the plummeting of what he perceived to be the Wyrmwood comet, amongst the many others, and the biblical importance in relation to the foretelling of apocalyptic events. This is actually very similar to the synopsis from another movie (also from Australia and also IMO highly watchable) released in 2003 entitled Undead (directed by the Spierig Brothers).
Brook's character also develops some very interesting traits to further separate this from other features in the same genre. Strong abilities she learns to control, through trial and error, to her advantage which only make her companions mouth what-the-fuck while questioning everything they've learned thus far about their beyond troublesome predicament. There was, however, one overriding factor that intrigued me above all others. The film's writers (Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner) among many other sparks of brilliance within the character's dialogue and the story itself have included a factor that to my knowledge isn't to be found elsewhere (throughout many long years in the realm of zombie cinema), in a nutshell a successful means to harness the insatiable energy of the undead.
Wrymwood is an excellent addition to a genre that, has much like most of the rotting characters within it, has been bludgeoned to parts and laid to rest more times than I care to mention. The storyline is interesting and along with the well directed action scenes held my attention rapt throughout. The writers chose to stick to the advice of one of my favorite movies in order to dispatch the advancing hordes. A classic line from where else but Bad Taste ...“The head shot is the only true stoppa!” It seems to work perfectly too though to be honest Benny's weapon is the one that dishes out the most formidable destruction radius and the largest bloody hole.
The effects come thick and fast, from the very first minute until the very last, offering gallons of blood and separated limbs aplenty. Much like most other zombie movies (worthy of a mention) one shouldn't get too attached to any one character as you never know what's in store for them in a landscape rife with incalculable savagery. Important decisions (that one should never be forced to make on an everyday basis) are commonplace and mean more than just your own survival perhaps even the continuation of the human race. I can't give this a recommendation large enough for I watched this movie with a fuck off huge smile on my face the entire time. Although no DVD release date has yet to be set it's still one I shall await whilst wearing the shirt and chanting the mantra 'Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi'though I know not why it just somehow seems appropriate. - Cult
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Feind loves watching movies of all kinds so if we watch it, we tell whether you should as well. I'll share mostly horror but I also enjoy everything from big Blockbusters to micro-budget Independent films.
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