Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, the stunning debut feature from Kiah Roache-Turner is an impressive foray into the world of schlocky hand-made horror by a group of filmmakers dedicated to the ideals of Indy cinema. And it totally works.
Barry (Jay Gallagher) is a loving husband and father, thrown into hell after a meteor shower brings the dead back to life. After his sister (Bianca Bradley) is kidnapped by gas-mask wearing soldiers, Barry heads out on a rescue mission with a group of apocalypse survivors.
The story itself isn’t anything new, it’s the tried and tested formula applied to most zombie films, and it works fine. Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead’ s real flair lies in its execution; the comedy of the writing, the intimate nature of the project (the film took 4 years to film since the crew could only convene at weekends), and the skill with which the story is filmed.
Wyrmwood doesn’t look like trash and it doesn’t want to. A great sense of motion, intuitive camera work, and a demented kind of energy definitely don’t get in the way of this handmade extravaganza. Sure its low-low budget horror, but this is a film with a flawless sense of exactly what it is and how to make it happen without looking like shit. Too often a film with a low budget looks like a film with a low budget, but Roache-Turner injects such energy and insanity into his script that the film could never be accused of being lazy, inept, or dull.
Dialogue is surprisingly sparky and the acting is solid, which isn’t exactly something to write home about, but it’s vaguely impressive considering the calibre of most films released in the wake of the zombie exploitation craze. Gallagher makes a great and oddly iconic looking hero; barely skipping a beat between the quiet domestic and apocalyptic punk landscapes of Barry’s life. But that’s not to say the drama is missing, there’s plenty of gruelling and heartfelt zombie concepts at work here. Special mention goes to the trauma of driving miles with your zombified daughter screaming in the back of the car.
Practical gore is probably the fastest way to my heart, so Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead gets bonus points for appeasing the gods of hard work, manual labour, and disgraceful DIY. Saying that, the film’s most zany trick comes hand in hand with some ill-fitting digital effects. Wyrmwood’s zombies exhale an odd flammable gas that our heroes hijack to power their truck. It’s daft, but in a film where government scientists dance to KC and the Sunshine band in zombie autopsy rooms, you can’t let daftness get in the way of viewing this hilarious totally impressive horror adventure.
Director Kiah Roache-Turner is an innovative talent to look out for if his debut feature is anything to go by, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is fantastic and genre fans will adore its lack of sanity and band of zany characters.
Dir: Kiah Roach-Turner
Stars: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradley, Keith Aguis, Berynn Schwerdt