In a world where many film snobs are determined to bury the zombie fad at every corner, we still seem to find interesting and fun movies in the genre each year, usually coming from countries other than the U.S. Wyrmwood: Apocalypse is an Australian production that is running with some fresher bodies and a couple of interesting ideas, it’s also a sequel to Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, which I wasn’t aware of until after the film started. The trailer was enough to sell me without additional research, capturing a sense of surreal absurdity and that feeling of being high after the end of society, which the movie kept going. No one really has to see the other Wyrmwood first, but now I’m definitely going to check it out.
We start off following Rhys, even if he doesn’t feel like the main character, and are given a glimpse into his routine and clever setup for a make-shift bunker. It’s important to eat well and stay in shape during the zombie apocalypse, so why not spar with a few of them when they can’t hurt you, or use a couple of the dead on bikes to help run some electricity. It’s a great introduction to tell us a little bit of information without making him feel too important. He seems to be a bounty hunter of some kind, capturing others and delivering them to a military group that is supposed to be looking for a cure, and anyone who has seen a few of these can instantly tell that things are about to head south for this soldier.
Rhys has some cool weapons that get a lot of use. He looks like Bane in his full gear and drives around in a rad truck. The soldier also has a few surprises up his sleeves for when he gets into trouble, showing himself to be quite capable of surviving this dark and gruesome version of the world. This particular assignment though, to bring in someone who is a half-zombie hybrid, quickly sets him on a dangerous path when he chooses to do the right thing. That’s the introduction of two other characters, but then two more join up as well, to form a whole team of angry ass-kickers. Soon it’s an ensemble cast with everyone having their moments. There is an odd feeling that these characters needed more time, but some of them were established in the first movie, and it turns out Rhys had an evil twin brother who was in that one too. That may sound like a lot, but it’s not hard to keep most of this straight with the dialog.
The majority of the acting in the film is nicely done and the lines feel natural, or fitting for the characters at least. There isn’t much banter, but the small bit of humor lands firmly in most scenes. All of the performers seem like they were having a good time when the cameras were rolling and it shows with the effort they put in. The villains are almost archetypes for the genre, but the passion and over-the-top energy is infectious – easy to hate. I love how the underground portion of the base is colorfully lit to help show The Surgeon’s insanity. It also makes this environment stand out against the other Australian landscapes and allows some of the set pieces to clue audiences in on how far the world has gone.
The plot may not be incredibly strong, but the film was doing interesting things within it. Even though the pacing was brisk, I found myself wanting more world-building on various subjects: how they were using zombies for fuel, the logistics of the pills and serums, more about the blood vials that kept the hybrids calm, and how some of these weapons and vehicles were made. This doesn’t make up for what lacking there is in the main story, but it does have me interested in the property as a series.
Once all of the pieces are in place it becomes clear what the third act will be. Up until this point the film has had a few odd tonal shifts, where at times the world seems incredibly serious and forlorn, and at other points it’s humorous and a bit wacky, but never goofy. It stays coloring within the lines for the most part, but when the final act hits, a lot of that is thrown out. The hybrid zombies get to show off their powers, the mad scientist uses a computerized undead champion to fight his battles along with having some corny typical villain-esque music, and the underground facility becomes a slaughtering ground just before the inevitable self-destruct sequence. It’s all wonderfully fun and a tad zany, but each moment is at least entertaining. For fans of zombies, blood, gore, and ridiculous outcomes, it’s hard to imagine wanting much else.
It was like watching Army of the Dead if it had a smaller budget with better bad guys and some tighter world-building. My only real problem with Wyrmwood: Apocalypse, if there is one, would be the two characters who sacrificed themselves only to pop up again at the end for a tease. This is an enjoyable movie though, and one that makes me think I should watch more Ozploitation films in the future. It won’t redefine the genre or cure zombie fatigue, but there’s a pulse there for anyone looking for a good time.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7.5 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.