Starring: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradley, Leon Burchill, and Keith Agius
Rated: Not Rated (Contains violence, adult language, and mild nudity)
Synopsis: Barry is a talented mechanic and family man whose life is torn apart on the eve of a zombie apocalypse. His sister, Brooke, is kidnapped by a sinister team of gas-mask wearing soldiers & experimented on by a psychotic doctor. While Brooke plans her escape Barry goes out on the road to find her & teams up with Benny, a fellow survivor – together they must arm themselves and prepare to battle their way through hordes of flesh-eating monsters in a harsh Australian bushland. [Synopsis written by Kiah Roache-Turner and Tristan Roache-Turner]
This film came through the food slot on my cell door a while ago . . . and was promptly lost under a bone pile in the corner. I found it today and decided to give it a go—it’s not often I’m given the chance to watch a zombie flick from another country and I had hopes this would be an Australian La Horde in some way. Spoilers: It isn’t. Nor did it deliver a Mad Max vibe, as billed in the majority of press written by their marketing team. Homemade safety gear does not automatically make a film a skip away from entering the Thunderdome. Pair all this with a disjointed story telling gimmick for the first forty–five minutes and the film falls a little flat. Once they get past the getting-to-know-you bit with the characters and setting the apocalypse, it’s a tolerable hack-n-slash flick with enough comedic moments to overlook some flaws. I mean, how can one dislike a film with golden phrases like mouth farts?
One thing the movie has for it is an original approach to the ecological repercussions of the undead during the apocalypse. Surely people turning into freaky creatures at the drop of a hat means other things are wrong. Turns out, whatever airborne virus changes humans also makes combustible materials inert. How’s a guy supposed to save the day if he can’t drive? Simple, use zombies as fuel. The gas they emit is highly flammable. And smells like farts. That’s a key take-away from the film.
Okay. Not really.
As much as I enjoyed the witty banter between characters, there’s not a lot of depth to anyone except Barry. His story through the first half is gut-wrenching. However, once he gets back on track to finding his sister, the story unravels into a series of deaths designed to have little to no actual impact on the hero until he pairs up with Benny. Side note: There’s three lead characters with similar names. It’s like they got stuck on the B section in a baby-naming book while penning the script. Barry’s sister, Brooke, becomes the sole female survivor in the story. As such, she’s bogged down by metaphysical gifts to make her unique and special, and more powerful to the men holding her captive. It’s like the writers couldn’t fathom an everyday woman capable of escaping. While, yes, Brooke’s ability to control zombies is pretty neat, it becomes a plot crutch, leading to several long moments where she’s supposed to call the undead and leaves the action to happen around her, without the only woman on screen really doing anything aside from standing and scowling.
The hero zombie makeup is pretty decent, featuring sunken eye sockets and mild wounds since most zombies turn without being bitten thanks to the zombie gas in the air. However, there’s a few background zombies who get close-ups and their splotchy greasepaint makeup breaks the continuity established for the dead. It’s jarring to see four zombies in a row in detailed FX makeup with full-face appliances, only to zoom in one another which looks like their makeup took maybe fifteen minutes to apply in the back of a car with a palm-sized mirror.
Overall, Wyrmwood proved slightly disappointing. I wanted something grander, crafted with care for the genre. What they delivered needed more time in editing to make it flow better and maybe a few reshoots to elaborate more on everyone except Benny. I give the film three decaying hearts out of five. It’s an okay film to add to your zombie-flick marathon come October.
Rated: Not Rated (Extreme Violence and Gore)
Starring: Michael Fuith, Theo Trebs, and Anna Graczyk
Before anyone dives into this film feet first, be aware that it is not in English. There are subtitles. If that prevents you from watching any decent film, you need to brush up on your reading skills and suck it up. More often than not, it is worth the extra effort. Is Rammbock (2010) worth it? Let’s find out.
Synopsis: Michael heads to Berlin to talk with his recent ex-girlfriend with a plan to win her back. But something isn’t right with the city. It is too quiet and Gabi is nowhere to be found. Before he can find her, hell breaks loose in the form of ravenous zombies—quick, dangerous—swarming the apartment complex Gabi lives in. Michael finds himself relying on a young man, Harper, and the complex tenants to help him survive and locate his missing girlfriend.
Rammbock starts off a little slow, building the tension to the first reveal of a new, frightening zombie breed. They’re red-faced, veins bulging under their discolored skin. Foam flows from their mouths. They scream and run as though possessed by demons. In other words, they’re not to be trifled with. The virus that creates them works quickly. Those infected do not die. Instead, an adrenaline rush triggers the change. In theory, if an infected person can remain calm for long enough, their immune system will attack and destroy the virus. It is only a theory; no one can stay calm in the middle of a zombie attack for very long.
The way the virus works was supplied through an age-old zombie film trope—the news feed. It is understandable in the case of Rammbock; the film is just about an hour long. There isn’t enough time to demonstrate the full effect and possibilities of the virus. However, I wish someone would think of a more original way to convey vital information from the government to the people. Use carrier pigeons for all I care, just find another way that doesn’t make the audience begin to zone out after a while.
Mixed with the horror of watching these people trapped inside an apartment complex is a lot of very interesting questions about human nature. Who can you trust? Once you realize there is an outbreak, everyone, even your lovers and family become a threat. One scratch, one bite and they’re chowing down on your face. What is the right way to escape? Several times in the film, suicide is mentioned as an option to be free of the painful truth—there is no way out alive. Or is there? Bravery is walking forward, no matter what frightening thing you face. A handful of the characters are extremely brave, almost to a fault. And the final question is: Would you sacrifice yourself to kill your infected lover, sparing yourself the loss and them the indignity of living as a monster? As one of the monsters, I have to say life as a zombie isn’t half bad. To each their own, though.
Overall I’m giving Rammbock three and a half gnawed-on legs out of five. This is a film that will make you seriously stop and think, “Am I ready to face whatever odds, whatever horrors, in order to live?” Well, are you?