WARNING – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
This little Australian gem gleefully discards a whole load of classic zombie conventions and invents a handful of new ones.
Firstly, we have the cause of the outbreak being a meteor shower (which is later tied in with the Biblical prophecy of the Wormwood fallen angel);
Secondly we have transmission via air (rather than the usual bite) – these zombies breathe out a contagious gas;
Thirdly, we have a record-breaking speed of conversion – forget the Walking Dead’s period of hours, or even 28 Days Later’s thirty or so seconds…..zombie conversion in this film happens mere seconds after infection (and indeed a plot device in the final scene relies upon that).
Fourthly, at the same time that all existing fuels cease functioning, zombie blood is discovered to function as a flammable gasoline substitute (leading to zombie-powered vehicles).
Except not at night.
I didn’t say it made sense.
Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead cleverly makes a virtue of its micro-budget (officially £160,000), eschewing big scenes and special effects in favour of well-considered set piece scenes, an example being a scrape between heroine Brooke and two just-converted zombies in the cramped confines of her photographic studio.
And speaking of Brooke, W:ROTD (like Jeepers Creepers before it) gives us the more unusual dramatic pairing of brother / sister protagonists (Brooke’s brother, Barry, is the other lead) although the two of them do not meet up until over an hour into the film.
There are clear nods to Mad Max here (or the Road Warrior, if you’re in the States), from the cobbled-together armour made of sports gear to the bloody, gritty combats to the stark setting of the Outback.
We also have some areas of commonality with television’s Z Nation, in that Brooke, having been subjected to experiments, becomes a part-zombie herself, with the ability to telepathically control other zombies (like Z Nation’s Murphy).
Congratulations to Writer / Producer / Director / Editors brothers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner on an original and distinctive contribution to the zombie genre and one that I heartily recommend – but then I would, as I have A Negative blood (watch the film to find out the significance of that).
Oh and a sequel is scheduled for 2017.