Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead
Director: Kiah Roache- Turner
Starring: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey; Leon Burchill
When was the last time you heard of a new interpretation of the zombie apocalypse theory? Tough right? For me as well, usually we go through the normal progression of genetic experimentation by the government, some top secret lab let loose a pathogen that attacks the world yada yada yada. This one doesn’t fit the standard zombie mold. Yes they eat faces and have an unquenchable lust for flesh but there is fun reasoning behind their initial takeover and for why in the beginning some turn immediately and some don’t. Let’s take ‘The Walking Dead’ (2010 Frank Darabont *spoiler*) to start. In this alternate zombie filled world they discover that everyone who dies- unless shot in the head- will be resurrected as a zombie, it’s in everyone’s blood and body to become the undead. I was impressed that Wyrmwood took another less expected path. In order to do this movie justice *SPOILERS* to follow, but whether you read to the end or not I encourage everyone to watch this movie if you like zombies!
As I put this movie on I was drawn in immediately by the opening scene, the intensity and gore of the zombies themselves, cinematography, and the strategy shown by the band of survivors, not your average Joes. But I immediately noticed something odd, every zombie was expelling some kind of green odor/gas as they screamed, and this gas also drifted out of wounds inflicted on them as they got hit. “Am I seeing things?” I don’t have the best vision, and I was watching this during the day in my condo, is it a glare on the TV? It very quickly became clear that it was not a mistake, and no I wasn’t imagining it. O.K I want to know more.
We meet our heroin Brooke, Bianca Bradey, doing some kind of creepy photo shoot with someone in crazy skeletal makeup (perfect for a zombie flick I already love this girl). When out of nowhere her model hunches over and spews out blood all over her partners face. As the model turns into a Z, Brooke is immediately ready for self- preservation; and once her partner’s trachea has been thoroughly ripped to shreds Brooke does something that most don’t think to do right away in this kind of film- try to kill the mother truckers! So while many people wait, and think ‘oh they’re sick’ and try to save them, ending up in their own demise. Brooke took to the offense decapitating one with a shovel and then to the self- preservation of getting up high into the rafters of the garage she was in- since fleeing wasn’t an option at the moment. She was able to make one quick call to her brother Barry, Jay Gallagher, urging him to leave the city ASAP with his family and get somewhere safe. It must run in the family to trust very quickly that you should be killing these stumbling strangers, because an intruder in Barry’s house turns out to be a zombie and, while of course it’s standard to fight an intruder, Barry is very quick to take an axe to his head! Good job you two!
Barry then notices the exact same thing I did, this weird green gas seeping out of these strange acting folks, and immediately puts himself and his family into gas masks- another impressive move, you go Glen Coco*. They book it out to the car and manage to get moving and of course… the little girl is the first to be zombified, her eyes go white, she starts desperately grabbing at her parents and it causes them to stop the car where we watch the unfortunate transformation of his wife as well. She throws up blood looking up to him saying ‘I can feel it’ with pleading eyes. Help. His weapon of choice had been a nail gun, being a mechanic, and he kills both his wife and child then, in a fit of self- loathing he attempts to kill himself but is out of nails. Back to his sister now! The film spends a lot of time jumping back and forth between our two protagonist’s situations. In her safe space up high in the garage loft she is ‘saved’ by two very military looking guys, who turn sour right away and take a large sample of her blood, test it in front of her, then knock her out and tie her up. She wakes up in this lab with a very creepy Dr. who comes in and put on ‘do a little dance’ (super un-nerving) and begins bopping around the room with restrained zombies and other survivors, injecting her with what seems to be either zombie blood, or spinal fluid.
Barry meets up with a few new survivors, some live some don’t, and seemingly for no reason their car stops working. Being a mechanic he tries everything to fix it but to no avail it just won’t start, peculiar, I’m still intrigued. (While this is happening we continue to see the Dr. injecting Brooke with more of this zombie fluid every once in a while). Barry then teams up with Benny, Leon Burchill, (I know c’mon please make it more confusing, Brooke, Barry and Benny) and they find a shed with 2 other survivors in it with, what looks like a usable truck, so they team up to figure out why cars aren’t starting. Frank, Keith Aguis, one of the two in the shed tells Barry it’ll be no use taking the truck because nothing will ignite anymore. He has samples of new ethanol, gasoline, and lighter fluid, taking a match he tries to ignite anything and all 3 are ineffective; but when he casually tosses a match on the ground (in some spilled zombie blood) it lights up like there’s no tomorrow! All of them immediately realize that the greenish ‘gas’ seeping from the zombies is just that GAS, an accelerant that if harnessed should be able to power a vehicle. They capture one, get a mask on his face, and quickly set up a way to power up the truck, which has been armed to the teeth.
Back to Brooke for a moment, she gets injected with yet more zombie fluid, and begins having weird headachey flashes, at a first glance maybe it seems that she’s turning, but then she realizes she has a telepathic connection with the zombies in the room; when she concentrates she can be in control of their body. SICK POWER.
The trio of survivors (the fourth having been bitten is now powering the truck) are on their way when at dusk their truck stops working. WTF again right? They dash to the back where their friend zombie is in a cage and notice that he isn’t expelling any of the gas anymore… do they run out? Nope. Frank comes to the conclusion that at night the zombies harness this gas making them stronger faster predators, but in the day they aren’t so it just seeps out of them and they are more like the true stumbling bumbling Z that we know and love. I am SO glad for that explanation, because I was getting very confused as to why some of the Zs could leap and sprint and yet some of them could barely walk a straight line. So they’re trapped in the truck for the night, surrounded by screeching zombies, luckily it’s supped up enough that they can’t get in and attack. They get to the philosophical talks and Frank gives us his theory of this being the beginning of the end, during the final revelation days an angel sent down wyrmwood, a star possessing a plague taking out mankind for the most part. Those whose souls were clean went up to heaven, those whose weren’t became plagued (zombies) and those left alive were in the middle of their trial by fire test by God. Of course now that we’ve fallen in love with Frank a situation happens where he gets bitten, and his request is for Barry to shoot him, saying ‘just make sure you do it while I’m still me’. Barry obliges leaving Frank to go as peacefully as any in this situation. Benny and Barry make it through to morning and get moving again; then run into the two men that took Brooke, unbeknown to them, and they give up the information that anyone with an A- blood type wasn’t affected by the plague via air, only if bitten. Barry mentions he’s looking for his sister and they end up following the two men to where they say they have other survivors, maybe Brooke.
Brooke now is gaining more control of her new power and uses the ability to unleash one of the zombies which in turn bites the Dr. and in a very tense bloody mess of a fight; he turns and she uses her power to get him to release her. She gets out and realizes she’s in the back of a big truck and who is following her but her brother Barry (convenient I know).
In hopes that you will all still go watch this movie the end is left for your own discovery. I will say though there is lots of blood, plenty of guts spilling out and of course more zombies! I was really sucked into the anger Barry had towards the zombies, the pain and PTSD he felt from having to kill the people he loved, the panic responses that each character felt in their terror moments, and how they reacted. Right now the movie has a 4/5 rating on Netflix, and I would give it a 3.5/5. At times I wanted a bit more explanation for certain situations; who was that Dr. affiliated with, is this affecting the whole world, why actually did the other flammable liquids stop being flammable, do I honestly believe 3 random guys would be able to set up a functional system for powering their truck with zombie gas? But I had a fun time watching it, and I will probably watch it again to see if maybe I missed the answers to any of my questions!
*Mean Girls 2004; Mark Waters