Director: Kiah Roache-Turner
Cast: Luke McKenzie, Shantae Barnes-Cowan, Jake Ryan, Bianca Bradey, Tasia Zalar, Jay Gallagher, Nick Boshier
Runtime: 1 hr 28 mins
Rating: M18 (Violence And Gore)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 14 April 2022
Synopsis: A post-apocalyptic zombie film that follows soldier Rhys on an arc of redemption as he turns against his evil bosses and joins forces with a group of rebel survivors to help rescue a girl who might hold the cure to the virus.
Unless you’ve seen the 2014 cult favourite ‘Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead’, you probably won’t be anticipating this sequel; and yet, let us reassure you that little prior knowledge of its predecessor is needed to enjoy the gnarly, grungy and grindhouse pleasures of this movie.
Revisiting the idiosyncratic world which they lovingly created from four years of weekends, Kiah Roache-Turner returns with his brother Tristan to deliver another tongue-in-cheek vision of what the world could be if overrun by zombies. That they are attracted to human flesh is the least exciting thing about the zombies here; what is even more interesting is how they exhale methane that can be used as a ready substitute for fossil fuels.
That wryness is apparent from the get-go – in an opening sequence set to the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song “Red Right Hand”, we are introduced to our lead protagonist Rhys (Luke McKenzie) as he emerges from a ramshackle hideout to demonstrate how he uses the undead to water his plants, power his home and even act as a boxing sparring partner.
Those who have seen the first ‘Wyrmwood’ movie will remember Luke as the villain called The Captain, and as we learn later on, Rhys is his twin brother. Also returning from the earlier movie is the shotgun-wielding Barry (Jay Gallagher) and the human-zombie hybrid Brooke (Bianca Bradey), though more in supporting parts here as they form a reluctant alliance with Rhys in order to rescue another hybrid Grace (Tasia Zalar) that Rhys had ignorantly delivered into the clutches of a demented scientist known as the Surgeon-General (Nicholas Bashier).
Unlike the hectic pacing of its predecessor, the first half of this sequel unfolds more deliberately, establishing Rhys as the clueless pawn of the Surgeon-General whom he believes is developing a cure for the virus. Only in the latter half does Roache-Turner return to the breathless action of the 2014 movie, what with Rhys, Barry and Bianca teaming up with Grace’s sister Maxi (Shantae Barnes Cowan) as they blaze a bloody trail to save Grace and uncover what nefarious deeds the Surgeon-General has been up to along the way.
Fans and genre aficionados should rest easy that it is as bloody and brutal as you can imagine, yet executed with unexpected ingenuity. A standout scene has Brooke going mano-a-mano with a cyborg zombie whom the Surgeon-General is controlling remotely through a VR device; another sees Rhys and Barry fighting against the Surgeon-General’s bodyguard, known as The Colonel (Jake Ryan). There is a crackling energy to the maniacal proceedings, which is precisely what such midnight movies should be made of.
Like we said at the beginning, prior knowledge of ‘Wyrmwood’ is really not necessary to savour the delirious joys of this equally insane sequel, made with as much love and gonzo-ness. We should say that those who have seen the first movie might lament how Barry and Brooke should remain the leads in the sequel, though we must say we enjoyed it for what it is. As long as you’re game for its definition of fun, you’ll probably lap it up as much as we did.
(The very definition of a midnight movie, this sequel to the 2014 cult classic offers gnarly, grungy and grindhouse pleasures)
Review by Gabriel Chong