Wyrmwood is a film which I was initially excited for, but became less so after I saw the first trailer, after seeing what I thought at the time to be unnecessary usage of CGI blood splatter. Friends of mine continued to watch it, and insist to me that it is a must-see post-apocalyptic movie, and so eventually I broke down and toughed it out. Contrary to my fears, the instance of CGI gore didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the movie at all. This is a movie that I was able to view a long time before most people were exposed to it. Around the time it was premiering at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, my association with several people involved with, and attending the event secured an online screener for me to peruse. Since breaking down and taking it in, I have been singing its praises, and recommending it to all who would listen. When IFC Midnight picked the film up for US distribution, I assumed that the recent deal between IFC and Scream Factory would lead to an eventual SF Blu-ray release of the film. And so here we are.
Wyrmwood is an Australian action/zombie film from first-time feature director Kiah Roache-Turner, and starring a cast of mostly unknowns. The story follows a ragtag group of survivors after a comet breaks into pieces above the earth and crashes into the surface, creating some sort of weird, gas-emitting undead ghouls who have turned life into a bloody, zombie-filled post-apocalyptic wasteland, straight out of Mad Max. The marketing for the film actually describes it as “Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead.”, and while that is generically correct, it actually doesn’t resemble Dawn of the Dead in any way. If anything, maybe Land of the Dead, considering the much larger scope of the whole thing, but really, it is a beast of its own creation. It doesn’t matter how many low budget, z-grade zombie movies you’ve seen in your day, you’re not prepared for what Wyrmwood brings to the table. It’s a whacky, non-stop thrill-ride, filled with plenty of guts and carnage, and terrific performances from almost all involved.
So, some of you may be curious as to the status of the CGI gore in the film, and I’m happy to report that, while it certainly exists, it’s mostly reserved for close-up headshots, and the crew did a really good job of blending it with enough practical to make it all look gritty, and grimy enough to satisfy most of our lust for on-screen guts and gore. Even if you do have some sort of unclearable hurdle with any usage of computer graphics at all in your horror movies, the pacing, and the sheer insanity on display within Wyrmwood rarely gives you a breather long enough to complain about, or maybe even notice it. CGI or no, Wyrmwood is a hell of a fun ride.
Surprisingly, Wyrmwood isn’t just another zombie movie filled with enough money shots to earn its keep on the shelf. There are a lot of moving parts here, and though not every single element of the plot is explained by the time you reach the end of the movie, the filmmakers were successful at making a different kind of zombie movie, with heart, and a coherent story, that while possibly influenced by genre films in the past, still stands out among the countless zed-word dudes that go straight-to-video each year. Sure, you could watch Wyrmwood on Netflix Instant, if so-inclined, but trust me when I say, you’re going to want to revisit this one, and possibly often. Watching the Scream Factory Blu-ray release of this IFC Midnight title marked my fourth time watching the film within the past twelve months, and rather than losing it’s charm, it seems to get better with each repeat viewing.
The video & audio quality on Scream Factory’s disc is excellent. It’s about the best you can expect from a low budget, indie horror film. It features a 1080p AVC-encoded transfer of the film, in widescreen(1.78:1) and an English language 5.1 DTS Master Audio track. No glitches, errors, compression artifacts, or any form of blemishes or issues to report.
While Wyrmwood does come with quite a few extras, maybe even more than we’re used to with the release of a film like this, it still feels somewhat underwhelming. Some of what you get are the original Kickstarter videos, when the film was being crowdfunded. Other than that, you get a director’s commentary, some deleted scenes, and a few little extras.
- Audio Commentary With The Roache-Turner Brothers
- The Wyrmdiaries: Behind The Scenes Of WYRMWOOD Featurette
- Crowdfunding Videos: Wyrmwood Production Pitch
- Deleted Scenes
- 7-Minute Teaser Scene
- Storyboards By The Director
- Theatrical Trailer
Upon its US release, Wyrmwood was given a silly subtitle. So while some of you will first be introduced to the film as Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, I refuse to call it that. Wyrmwood was good enough, and though I suppose there is quite literally a “road of the dead” somewhere in this film, it’s a little too tacky, and on-the-nose. The good news for those of you thinking about making a blind-buy of this one, is that is currently cheap as hell on Amazon. $9.99, to be precise. Though I wholeheartedly recommend this film to any lover of well-made indie genre fare, I’d also recommend snagging it up while it sits at that price point. It’s currently $17.00 on Scream Factory’s website, and I’d imagine it’ll be similar on Amazon in the coming weeks. Wyrmwood is just a fun time, with loads of gore, crazy action, and was assembled by a cast and crew of real talent. If you see just one Australian, post-apocalyptic, gas-emitting, chainsaw and S&M-gear zombie movie this year, make sure it’s this one.