Wyrmwood: Apocalypse Is an Action-Packed Gory Blast

Photo by Thom Davies | Courtesy of XYZ Films

I have to admit I was really excited for Wyrmwood: Apocalypse, the follow-up film to the 2014 inventive indie Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead that pondered the question, “What if Mad Max had zombies and mad scientists in it?” Wyrmwood wasn’t exactly the first film that came to mind on a list of sequels I’d love to have, but after being surprised by a trailer drop a few months ago, I was more than ready to go back to Kiah Roache-Turner’s world of mayhem, brutality, and gore. 

When we last left our heroes, Barry (Jay Gallagher) had made it back to his sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) after losing his family to a zombie outbreak. Barry had teamed with Benny (Leon Burchill) to find his sister, who a shady government doctor had taken. The Doctor (Berynn Schwerdt) was experimenting on the immune, hoping to find a cure, but instead turned Brooke into a hybrid zombie-human with the ability to command the dead. Meanwhile, Barry and Benny had found gasoline was rendered useless and found an alternative method to power their cars: zombie breath. It turns out the exhales of the undead are the most combustible thing in the Wyrmwood universe, and the undead were utilized as car fuel as the pair prepared to battle with The Doctor and his soldiers, led by a cruel and unrelenting Captain (Luke McKenzie).  

BARRY (Jay Gallagher) aims shotgun in Wyrmwood: Apocalypse
Photo by Thom Davies | Courtesy of XYZ Films

Wyrmwood: Apocalypse takes place sometime after Brooke, Barry, and Benny’s final showdown with The Captain, beginning by introducing us to Benny’s nieces, Grace (Tasia Zalar) and Maxi (Shantae Barnes-Cowan). After Brooke bites Grace, the two sisters contend that life might be better if they traveled on their own. Bites are managed in this wasteland through antiviral pills, though anyone bitten is often put down instead of saved. Grace soon starts exhibiting hybrid signs similar to Brooke’s abilities, and while they’re on the road are ambushed by Corporal Rhys (also Luke Mackenzie). Rhys has been tasked with bringing a hybrid to the underground lab of the mad-scientist Surgeon General (Nicholas Boshier) while searching for his brother’s killers. 

The first half of Wyrmwood: Apocalypse doesn’t have much to do with Brooke and Barry, the central characters of the original film. Instead, it treats them as legacy characters in a requel (reboot/sequel) setting, teasing their return momentarily at the start of the film before revealing them satisfyingly at the right moment, not unlike how Scream (2022) approached its characters. Most of Wyrmwood: Apocalypse belongs mainly to Luke McKenzie’s Rhys, twin brother of the big bad Captain he played in the first film. Again, begging a Mad Max comparison, the Roache-Turners have brought the actor back like George Miller brought The Road Warrior’s Bruce Spence back as a different character in Beyond Thunderdome.

I understand the appeal of bringing McKenzie back for the film, he has action movie star appeal. At times, he even resembles Dave Bautista through his facial expressions. Rhys breathes life into the wasteland carnage of this spatter-filled octane-fueled world, and it’s a fantastic arc to watch McKenzie’s Rhys joins Brooke and Barry. McKenzie was a great villain in Road of the Dead, someone you truly loved to hate, which makes seeing him fight for the good guys with the same intensity that much more satisfying.

RHYS_(LUKE MCKENZIE) shotgun in Wyrmwood: Apocalypse
Photo by Thom Davies | Courtesy of XYZ Films

Speaking of requel, Wyrmwood: Apocalypse follows a similar story template to its predecessor. A new sibling duo, a new hybrid, and new wrath against a government soldier-protected laboratory. Apocalypse’s lab is stationary, making this film less of the Road Warrior experience of the first movie. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of post-civilization Fast and Furious behavior. Apocalypse is mainly a bunker raid story, as Rhys joins the rag-tag group of rebels after he’s left for dead. His discovery of what he’s been doing for the fascist Wolfenstein-esque regiment of elite soldiers performing bunker-based experiments leads him to change his conscience.

One of the mainstays of beloved action films is having a big bad underling to the less intimidating villain—sort of a John McClane fighting the blonde-haired terrorist before encountering Hans Gruber situation. Wyrmwood has done this in both films with The Captan/Doctor relationship in Road of the Dead and the Colonel/Surgeon dynamic in Apocalypse. Wyrmwood: Apocalypse also adds an augmented zomborg (zombie/cyborg) to the mix, stirring in that extra element of over-the-top weirdness we saw in their neon-tinged 2018 film Nektronic, which feels like it could be an eventual part of a Wyrmwood multiverse.  

CYBORG ZOMBIE (Alex Jewson) 1000 yard stare in Wyrmwood: Apocalypse
Photo by Thom Davies | Courtesy of XYZ Films

I have to say that Wyrmwood: Apocalypse surpassed every one of my expectations as well as its predecessor in every possible way. While I liked Road of the Dead just fine, it didn’t leave much of a lasting impression. I enjoyed this more polished revisited version of the Aussie armageddon now that the Roche-Turners have more experience under their belts. Road of the Dead was the first feature for the writer brothers, who have certainly honed their craft to provide a much tighter viewing experience while still delivering the extensively excessive action sequences one would expect after seeing their debut film. Wyrmwood: Apocalypse is definitely not going to appease anyone looking for substance, though if you’ve seen the trailer, I’m not sure why you’d see the film if that was the case.

What Wyrmwood: Apocalypse does bring is eighty-eight minutes of unrestrained violence and gore. It’s a non-stop blast of fun from beginning to end with some super fun surprises for fans of the original. The set pieces are incredible, and this zombie-infested world’s technology is wonderfully imaginative. If monsters, zombies, guns, and guts are in your wheelhouse, you won’t find a more enjoyable experience so far in 2022. Hopefully, with the way the film ends, we will see a completed Wyrmwood trilogy rounded out soon rather than having to wait until 2028.  

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is currently available to stream through AMC+. Wyrmwood: Apocalypse will be available on VOD on April 14. 

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Written by Sean Parker

Living just outside of Boston, Sean has always been facinated by what horror can tell us about contemporary society. He started writing music reviews for a local newspaper in his twenties and found a love for the art of thematic and symbolic analysis. Sean joined Horror Obsessive at it's inception, and is currently the site's Creative Director. He produces and edits the weekly Horror Obsessive podcast for the site as well as his interviews with guests. He has recently started his foray into feature film production as well, his credits include Alice Maio Mackay's Bad Girl Boogey, Michelle Iannantuono's Livescreamers, and Ricky Glore's upcoming Troma picture, Sweet Meats.

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