The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan



If you remade an especially intense episode of The Walking Dead in the style of The Road Warrior, then threw in some of the pitch black humor of Evil Dead 2, you'd have Wyrmwood.

I could technically end this review right there, because what more do you need?

The movie, an Aussie import directed in gloriously attention-getting style by Kiah Roache-Turner, envisions a sudden zombie apocalypse caused by a mysterious comet. Jay Gallagher plays Barry, an auto mechanic who loses his wife and daughter to it. Traumatized by having to kill them after they “turn,” he carries on with his quest to rescue his sister, Brooke (Bianca Bradey). She's been kidnapped and is being held in some sort of weird laboratory, where an insane scientist performs experiments on her while dancing to an old KC & the Sunshine Band song. Along the way, Barry hooks up with several other survivors, including an Aborigine named Benny (the witty Leon Burchill) and the no-nonsense Frank (Keith Agius). Together, the newly-formed gang assembles Mad Max-style homemade armor and puts together their own fortified combat vehicle. Then they take the fight out to the streets.

Wyrmwood introduces two elements that distinguish it from other zombie movies. The first is that the guys discover zombie blood works like gasoline. It can power vehicles or even be used against their enemies. The second is that Brooke develops special powers that allow her to control the undead. This gives everyone a bit of an edge when fighting. More is done with the second development than with the first, but both inject something original and fresh into the proceedings, which adds exponentially to Wyrmwood's appeal.

Roache-Turner, who co-scripted with brother Tristan, shoots the whole film at a break-neck, mile-a-minute pace that never lets up. The over-the-top tone works magnificently, giving the action scenes real punch, while simultaneously making the moments of deadpan humor pop. Wyrmwood is one of the bloodiest, goriest movies I've seen in years. It pulls no punches, yet the wild car chases and intense fight scenes are done with such cheerful energy and demented comedy that you can't help but surrender to their wicked charms. Calling a movie a “thrill ride” has become a bit of a cliché, but in this case it really applies. Wyrmwood hits the ground running and doesn't let go of you.

The carnage may prove a slight bit wearying to those with weak stomachs, and the idea of zombie blood acting like gas could have been exploited a little more. Then again, they may be saving that for the sequel. And I'd happily sit through (at least) one. Nicely acted by a strong cast, Wyrmwood is a no-holds-barred blast of mayhem, perfect for viewers who like their horror straight-up bonkers.

( out of four)

Note: Wyrmwood is in theaters and on VOD simultaneously. For more information, please visit the IFC Midnight website.

Wyrmwood is unrated, but contains adult language and extreme violence/gore. The running time is 1 hour and 38 minutes.

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