Wyrmwood: Apocalypse (2022) Shambles onto Streaming
Title: Wyrmwood: Apocalypse
First Non-Festival Release: February 10, 2022 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Kiah Roache-Turner
Writer: Kiah Roache-Turner, Tristan Roache-Turner
Runtime: 88 Minutes
Starring: Luke McKenzie, Shantae Barnes-Cowan, Tasia Zalar
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
In the middle of the nowhere, a military compound performs experiments on random civilians in order to find a cure to the zombie outbreak that has plagued humanity. Rhys (Luke McKenzie) is a soldier tasked with finding such guinea pigs for experimentation with the understanding that he is saving lives. When he stumbles upon Maxi (Shantae Barnes-Cowan) and Grace (Tasia Zalar), sisters who are on the run from their own issues, he begins to question the validity of the lab and his involvement. Things come to a head when notable hybrid Brooke (Bianca Bradey) and her brother (Jay Gallagher) arrive to break out the sisters.
Zombie carnage comes alive in middling Australian action horror comedy hybrid Wyrmwood: Apocalypse.
Picking up some time after the first film, Wyrmwood: Apocalypse introduces a new group of evil scientists and clueless military personnel dedicated to experimenting on zombies. When Barry and Brooke eventually catch up with the sisters who have unwittingly stumbled into the sinister operation, they resolve to perform a rescue mission against better judgment. This leads to a series of revelations and hard truths for Rhys to swallow. The story evolves into the typical team up to take down the real bad guys plot that’s been done time and again. Going into a movie like Wyrmwood: Apocalypse it’s not necessarily a bad thing to rely on the familiarity but it’s still disappointing nonetheless.
This sequel improves on the original by making the story more intimate and subverting the road trip aspect of the first. The military compound isn’t as big as one might hope but it allows for some neat set pieces that maintain the tension. There are some great moments towards the finale showing some new modifications to the zombies allowing the antagonists to really flex their creativity. It can, however, get repetitive. There are only so many times that scenes replay similarly to ones later in the film. Between human-on-human fights and boss battles, there is little dynamism to the filmmaking here.
What Wyrmwood: Apocalypse does not do well is stay consistent with its hybrid lore. Perhaps the most enchanting but least fleshed out aspect of the franchise, the hybrids are meant to add an unexpected element to differentiate the films from other zombie flicks. Unfortunately, in Wyrmwood: Apocalypse the rules bend and break at the whims of plot conveniences and emotional moments. For a film that attempts to straddle so many genres, comedy included, it is forgivable but not wholly.
Packed with zombie mayhem and sci-fi carnage, the relentless action gets old quickly. The protagonists get little break from the constant state of terror. There is seldom time to breathe before moving to the next set piece or obstacle. The special effects team works overtime delivering quality splatter and impressive gore sequences on a small budget. The problem, however, is that the pacing desensitizes the audience so quickly it feels too overdone.
The first Wyrmwood film earned the love of genre fans for its offbeat premise and indie roots. This reviewer is more indifferent to the series. It’s clear that plenty of passion and energy goes into this project but it fails to make all its ideas work. Wyrmwood: Apocalpyse, however, is a step up from its previous effort. With its more controlled script and world building, it makes for a better addition to the zombie cannon.
Fans of the Wyrmwood series should have plenty to celebrate in this pared down sequel. With a more compact setting, its production values are able to elevate the film enough to make this zombie action hybrid much more entertaining and bigger than imagined. It still wavers when telling its iffy story. The zombie lore here isn’t enough to counterbalance its near constant need for repetitive bloody action sequences. Clearly, there is plenty of heart involved in the productions, so for those wanting an indie film that could, this is their bet. For those shambling across the land for the next great zombie flick, keep searching.
Overall Score? 5.5/10