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That zombie breath makes for a viable alternative fuel source is but one of the many revelations of Wyrmwood, the latest example of the horror genre that shows no signs of fading away. Kiah Roache-Turner’s zombie movie set in the Australian outback displays enough gonzo elements to please genre fans, with its resemblance to the Mad Max series clearly not coincidental.
Co-scripted by the director’s brother, Tristan Roache-Turner—it’s easy to imagine that these raucously imaginative siblings must have been hell to babysit—the film doesn’t spend much time explaining the causes of its post-apocalyptic zombie invasion, other than to say that it was caused by an errant comet. The catastrophe quickly turns personal for mechanic Barry (Jay Gallagher), who receives an urgent call from his sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) informing him that one of her friends has recently turned. It isn’t long before a zombie intruder invades the household, resulting in the infection of Barry’s wife and young daughter with predictably fateful results.
Brooke eventually winds up a prisoner in a military laboratory, chained to the wall alongside other hapless victims and several zombies. She becomes the subject of various medical experiments performed by a mad scientist who giddily goes through his exertions while boogying along to KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight.”
Meanwhile, Barry–accompanied by several fellow survivors including the wisecracking Benny (aboriginal actor Leon Burchill, displaying sharp comic timing)–attempts to rescue his sister while fighting off hordes of the undead along the way.
The film introduces at least one novel element into its overworked genre, namely Brooke’s newfound ability to control the zombies with her mind, which comes in handy when dealing with the fascistic military forces who barely bother to discriminate between their human and zombie prey.
Although distinguished by some wildly staged vehicular chase sequences and genuinely witty deadpan dialogue, the film inevitably feels like a footnote to the plethora of similarly themed movies and television shows that seem to arrive on a weekly basis. But it does demonstrate that if the Roache-Turner brothers apply their talents to more original territory they may well have a solid future in the horror film landscape.
Production: Guerilla Films
Cast: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey, Leon Burchill, Keith Agius, Luke McKenzie, Berwynn Schwerdt
Director/editor: Kiah Roache-Turner
Screenwriters: Kiah Roache-Turner, Tristan Roche-Turner
Producer/production designer: Tristan Roache-Turner
Executive producer: Jamie Hilton, Kiah Roache-Turner, Tristan Roche-Turner
Director of photography: Tim Nagle
Composer: Michael Lira
Casting: Jay Gallagher
No rating, 92 min.
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