Welcome back to Wyrmwood you filthy animals! The high octane sequel to Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead re-enters the world of combustible zombie breath and mad murderous doctors to deliver a gory good time on par with its older sibling.
Wyrmwood: Apocalypse picks up immediately where the 2015 original left off. As Barry (Jay Gallagher) and his mostly-zombified sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) move on from their encounter with law enforcement that’s not exactly serving or protecting. They stumble into hostile survivors Maxi (Shantae Barnes-Cowan) and Grace (Tasia Zalar), the nieces of Benny (Leon Burchill), who gave his life to save Brooke and Barry.
“Filmmaking duo Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner […are] like psychopathic kids on a sugar high.”
The story then shifts to Rhys (Luke McKenzie), a mercenary hired to bring live humans and zombies alike to The Surgeon (Nicholas Boshier) who, like others before him, experiments on and murders each of his subjects. Fueled by the death of his twin brother and naïve to what happens to his captives, Rhys traps Maxi and escorts her to the laboratory. After learning the consequences of his job, the two team up to put an end to the senseless killings. The old saying that blood (and guts) is thicker than water hails true, as everyone’s paths soon cross for an explosively gory showdown.
If you haven’t seen Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead prior to this, I would recommend doing so. Not so much because you’d be lost plot-wise in this sequel (though it certainly helps in that regard), but rather because doing so puts into perspective the commendable continuity in filmmaking and impeccable chemistry between the cast despite the new faces. As we, the viewer, re-enter the world of Wyrmwood, it’s as though we never left. An impressive feat after the nearly seven-year gap between films.
Filmmaking duo Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner boast serious talent in each feature both behind the camera and penning the scripts. Importantly, the two accomplished hitting that sweet sweet sequel spot, as Wyrmwood: Apocalypse modestly expands the Wyrmwood universe and incorporates what worked best before, all while playing within the established world like psychopathic kids on a sugar high.
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As mentioned, the cast chemistry that provided a major boost in Road of The Dead transfers neatly over to Wyrmwood: Apocalypse. Although the comedic presence of Leon Burchill and the devilish dark humor performance by Berynn Schwerdt as The Doctor is definitely missed, the returning cast never misses a beat. Jay Gallagher carries with ease the same confident rage of Barry that worked so well as the lead of the first film.
“…the film’s one and only objective is to show you a bloody good time, and that’s exactly what it does.”
Once again, Bianca Bradey steals each scene she’s in. As the master zombie controller/human hybrid Brooke, her performance reaches an intoxicating badass-ery level so off the charts that it probably shouldn’t be legal. The new faces lift their own weight, too. Luke McKenzie doesn’t arrive as a total stranger, as he portrayed his twin brother briefly in Road of the Dead, but he suits the role of the new lead comfortably. Maxi mirrors the same heroism as her uncle Benny strikingly well, fitting in wonderfully with the theme of family bonds interwoven into the plot.
That being said, it’s not necessary to oversell the story of Wyrmwood: Apocalypse or its predecessor, as it’s certainly not complex. Nor is it trying to be. At its core, the film’s one and only objective is to show you a bloody good time, and that’s exactly what it does. A great movie to watch by yourself or a group of friends on a Friday night alike. The best compliment I can deliver to this movie is it’s wildly entertaining. Underscoring the “us against the government” scenario is the heart of the film’s plot- using the very zombies destroying the world as tools to survive in it, via an overtly Mad Max manner stylistically.
Their breath (or…gasses?) is flammable, which comes as great relief as everyone’s gasoline doesn’t combust anymore. Why? WHO CARES? Another example of playing within their established universe, the filmmakers take the concept of zombies as useful devices a step further and introduce the Brooke-controlled flesh eaters as kamikaze weapons, strapped with grenades and sprinting with great glee to their intended targets. It’s a sequence so comical, simple, and clever- a perfect summary of the fun this film exudes.
The final component of Wyrmwood: Apocalypse that successfully made the trip over from the original is the stunning set designs and special effects. The film is somewhat contained to a few locations and the lush wilderness, but it’s a dazzling lesson of quality over quantity. Rhys‘s zombie-powered/zombie-proof compound comes straight out of post-apocalyptic lore, comprised creatively of spare parts from an untold number of societal relics. Complete with electricity and even pressurized water via a zombie power-biking like mad, the sets capture as much attention at times as the cast.
Doubling down on the mad doctor laboratory lair, which was once comprised of an old refrigerated truck in the original, is now a full-blown labyrinth from hell, bathed with red lighting and lots and lots of blood. Speaking of blood, no zombie flick is legit without extravagant gore, and the effects team didn’t disappoint.
Embracing every ingredient that makes a post-apocalyptic zombie film great, while trading the scares for laughs, Wyrmwood: Apocalypse settles in very comfortably into the Wyrmwood universe. Perhaps most impressively, the stakes are heightened and the lore is expanded, while the elements that made the original a great time are remembered and brought along for the ride. With a third film teased, the filmmakers and cast alike have proven they are more than capable of another eye-popping chapter in this dementedly funny dystopian world of the dead.
“…no zombie flick is legit without extravagant gore, and the effects team didn’t disappoint.”
I recommend you catch Wyromwood: Apocalypse on digital release day April 14th, 2022, and be sure to let us know what you thought of this wild zombie flick over on Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook, Want to join in on the conversation with other lovers of horror? Join the Nightmare on Film Street Discord, or the brand spanking new NOFS Horror Movie Fiend Club community on Twitter!