Christopher Proeh says the Australian zombie sequel, Wrymwood: Apocalypse is fantastically bizarre and entertaining.
Co-written by brothers, Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner and directed by Kiah Roache-Turner, Wyrmwood: Apocalypse is a fun, gore-filled Australian zombie film. The film follows Rhys (Luke McKenzie), a soldier and hunter who works for a mad scientist known as The Surgeon General (Nicholas Boshier). Rhys’ main goal is to capture “patients” who are experimented on, in hopes to find a cure, but unbeknownst to him, more sinister things are happening to the captives. With his latest capture, he finds himself trying to save the human-zombie hybrid, Grace (Tasia Zalar) with the help of her sister, Maxi (Shantae Barnes-Cowan), who just happen to be the nieces of Benny (Leon Burchill, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead).
The film is a sequel to Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014) and we follow familiar faces such as Brooke (Bianca Bradey) and her brother Barry (Jay Gallagher). In the first film, Brooke becomes the first of a breed of human-zombie hybrids and she can control other zombies with her mind. Rhys, the twin brother of the first film’s villain, The Captain, lives his life barricaded away from the flesh-eating and methane-producing zombies. The film opens up with Brooke attacking Grace, who then bites her, causing Grace and her sister, Maxi, to flee. Shortly after, Grace becomes a hybrid and Rhys’ next captive. With the demands of Maxi to rescue her sister, Rhys makes a daring attempt to rescue her. This film takes audiences on a wild, bizarre, splatter-punk ride and does not stop until the end credits roll.
Throughout the film, Roache-Turner draws influences from films that are well known and loved. The original Wyrmwood tagline is “Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead” and those influences still ring true in Wyrmwood: Apocalypse. The films encompass the entirety of the Mad Max film series arcs with this film mirroring Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (1981). I also noted influences fromSam Raimi’s iconic Evil Dead (1973) in the signature traveling cam shots that are evident in Apocalypse with the forward movements of the camera through the woods.
Not to mention the Surgeon General’s autonomous hand that resembles Ash’s possessed hand in Evil Dead 2 (1981). I love the film's gritty outdoor set designs juxtaposed with the colorful neon lighting of the laboratory scenes—the film visually resembles RAGE 2, a video game where “Insanity Rules” developed and published by Avalanche Studios, id Software, and Bethesda. It’s a fun and enjoyable thrill ride.
McKenzie and Boshier are the standout stars of the film. McKenzie’s character is in clear opposition to The Captain, whom he portrayed in Road of the Dead. In this film, he’s the reluctant hero, interacting with and fighting off a series of flesh-eating zombies, a mad scientist, a hybrid, and soldiers. Although he makes poor decisions, he’s still a character we want to follow. Living a barricaded life, Rhys has some fun with the undead using hilarious traps and inventions to help him water his plants. Boshier’s portrayal of the Surgeon General is brilliant. He's a villain with a surprisingly comical touch, the character has more depth and is a lot of fun to watch.
Does this film add anything new to the zombie genre? I don’t think we’ve seen methane gas emitting zombies before. In this film, the zombies are slow during the day and fast at night. The gas super changes them when the sun goes down. The zombies have flammable blood and can even be used to fuel cars and machines, like the traps and inventions used by Rhys. Brooke and Grace transition into hybrids who can only be tamed with the consumption of blood. This is reminiscent of a creature we’re all familiar with, the vampire. It’s a refreshingly different take on zombies.
If you’re a zombie lover and you have some time to kick back with a horror film, give this film a watch, especially if thrilling action sequences and gore tickle your fancy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not Dawn of the Dead (2004), but this film is action-packed and kept me intrigued the entire time. The story felt a bit lacking focusing primarily on Rhys' adventure through the wasteland. The other characters’ stories get a little lost, making it difficult to care for them. Despite this, it’s one hell of a good time.