The problem with liking horror movies on Netflix is that the algorithm assumes that I’ll like almost all horror movies five out of five stars. Actually, I don’t know how the hell the algorithm works, but it hasn’t been able to get a handle on my eclectic tastes in the several years that I’ve been using it. When Netflix’s Ava (Ex Machina reference!) seductively suggested Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, I was sceptical because of how flooded the zombie movie market is with more-of-the-same bullshit. But the description made it sound like the film was adding a new twist to the careworn subgenre. That, coupled with the fact that it’s Australian, convinced me to check it out.
Wyrmwood: RotD begins, as many zombie films do, just as the plague (or whatever) is spreading. Barry, his wife, and his kid are beset by zombies and make a break for it in the family car. His kid turns zombie, his car just stops working, his wife turns, and he is forced to kill his family. Distraught, he turns his weapon – a nail gun – on himself but finds it empty. Damn! He’s rescued against his will by a dude with a rifle and a predilection for marijuana joints. Stoned rifle owner doesn’t make it far before his car just dies as well, for no apparent reason. He gets killed, Barry teams up with another guy, they find some other guys, and they all find out that gasoline doesn’t work anymore but zombie blood is highly flammable. Oh wow! Of course, they can use it for fuel. Concurrently, Barry’s sister has been captured by some nefarious government types. She’s put into roving research lab where she’s injected with zombie blood because she seems to be immune. Turns out, the zombie blood connects her psychically to all the nearby zombies. She can control them like puppets! Barry and his road buddy coincidentally meet up w/ the government bad guys and Barry’s sister and a (small) big battle ensues.
It’s probably clear from the tone of my synopsis that I wasn’t a huge fan of the film. Sure, there were some new ideas among the hackneyed and tired zombie tropes, but new isn’t synonymous with good. Psychic links?! What? That’s a pretty huge ask in the suspension of disbelief category. And I’m no car expert, but it seems like you can’t just throw any flammable liquid/blood into your gas tank and be on your merry way. There’s no explanation for the crazy shit either. There is mention of a meteor shower. Did that cause all flammable liquids to lose there flammability (is that a word?)? And the exhaust coming from the mouths of the zombies is because they are using their own blood as internal fuel to move faster at night? It’s hard to keep up with the ridiculousness of these plot devices. And I don’t mean ridiculous-funny. I mean ridiculous-worthy-of-ridicule. If the film had gone straight-up comedy, it may have worked. Instead, we get just a few gags/jokes among the maudlin “I held my son in my arms as he died from cancer, so a zombie apocalypse is nothing” type stuff. It just doesn’t work. I hate to be entirely negative with a film, so here are some things that I liked: the gov’t researcher oozed pervy creepiness; the use of sports gear as armor was pretty cool; there were some startling/surprising kills.
THE FINAL CUT: Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead makes an effort to inject some fresh ideas into the worn out zombie film subgenre but only succeeds in confusing the viewer with half-baked, illogical plot devices. It’s played too straight to be much fun despite a few decent moments of levity.