Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead – 2015 Movie Review – Chattanooga Film Festival – Film Dispenser

Film April 3, 2015 Scott Phillips
Scott serves as the Content Programmer for the Way Down Film Festival held in Columbus, Georgia every Fall.

Zombies are the new vampires.  After the Twilight series (films and books), True Blood, and the Underworld films, it seemed that for the better part of a decade every other thriller or film based on Young Adult fiction had to have a bloodsucker of some variety among its cast of characters.  Now, the small screen offers five seasons of The Walking Dead, the new CW series iZombie, and later this summer, Fear the Walking Dead, a spin-off series from AMC just in case you couldn’t survive a summer free of the undead.

So, in this super-saturated genre, if you’re going to release an indie zombie horror film, you better bring something new and exciting to the table.  And for its 95-minute runtime, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead manages to bring new life, uh, revive, er, reanimate(?) the zombie genre.  Five minutes into the film, you can hear the pitch from writer-director Kiah Roache-Turner to possible financial backers:  “How about a film where  Mad Max meets The Walking Dead?” Or Dawn of the Dead if you want to keep it cinematic. And that concept does indeed yield an entertaining film.

Little time is spent explaining the reason for the Zombie Apocalypse Down Under.  When the Outback sky is filled with shooting stars, Aussies start vomiting blood and transforming into flesh-eating monsters, forcing husbands to kill wives and children to kill parents, as they attempt to survive long enough to band together with other survivors. Our gang of protagonists armor up their cars, don hockey masks and shoulder pads and transform themselves into undead killing machines.

Wyrmwood is a visceral experience that’s not intended to be analyzed and nit-picked. Nail guns don’t actually shoot nails or construction workers would die at an alarming rate.  A shotgun blast would not pulverize someone’s head from hundreds of feet away although you might get hit by a few stray pellets. So, if you need a dose of reality with your horror films, or you need a complex mythology explaining the whys and wherefores behind the action onscreen, look elsewhere. This is Australian grindhouse with an emphasis on thrills, non- stop action and a bombastic score.

This film played at midnight on the Opening Night of the Chattanooga Film Festival (April 2, 2015), and it’s the perfect ultra-violent, blood-drenched horror experience for tired film-goers to unwind to after an evening of documentaries, short films and serious indie dramas.  Wyrmwood swings wildly from laugh-out-loud humor to edge-of-your-seat suspense, and it has the good sense not to take itself too seriously. From the bone-chilling moment when a little girl comes into her parents’ bedroom and says, “Daddy, there’s someone in the kitchen” to the images of a mad scientist dancing to K.C. and the Sunshine Band as he experiments on survivors, Wyrmwood is a manic collection of horror imagery held together by a thin plot. And at midnight, in a theater filled with festival-goers, that’s just what the mad scientist doctor ordered.

Scott Phillips

The Movie Isle

Scott Phillips holds a degree in print journalism from the University of Georgia and is currently a member of the Georgia Film Critics Association (GAFCA). In addition to his role as a correspondent for Timed Edition, Scott serves as the Executive Editor and Senior Writer for themovieisle.com. From 2013 through 2017, he reviewed films for filmdispenser.com. Along with his duties as a critic, Scott serves as the Content Programmer for the Way Down Film Festival held in Columbus, Georgia every fall.

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