The more original ideas we produce, the higher the difficulty to create original content. This is no more true than in the realm of film. It is a particular problem in the horror genre, where it is dominated by variants of a handful of sub-genres. For over a decade, the zombie sub-genre has been beaten to death, to undeath, and back to actual death, through the dawn, day, and night. Variants on the model have taken us down some interesting paths, but has also led to a throng of copycats cashing in on The Walking Dead craze. We won't deny our love for films like 28 Days Later, Zombieland, Contracted, The Battery, and Shaun of the Dead, but, as you can see, there's a healthy dose of parody in that list. And feeding off the genre you require for sustenance will eventually lead to a shortage of flesh. Which brings us to Wyrmwood.
Wyrmwood never takes itself seriously. Like many zombie films of its caliber, it is this feature that allows the film to keep from being considered utter garbage. But the obvious extent of content this film steals from other films is just too much to handle. This movie isn't even original as far as Australian zombie movies go! The overarching plot is a rip-off of Undead (2003) and the rest of the movie sprinkles in moments and inspirations from Resident Evil (Alice-like subplot), Evil Dead (constant campy camera-zooms), and Mad Max (post-apocalyptic road rage) in an attempt to mask the stench that the entire film is just a culmination of the director's favorite movies.
Perhaps I am being a bit harsh. The film had its moments of entertainment, but as a whole it felt choppy and disconnected. The comedic scenes felt dry and forced, the dramatic moments were stale and disjointed in the context of the film, and the horror scenes brought little to nothing new with little attempt to illicit fear or tension. In the end, the film attempts every light-hearted zombie trope and fails to strike a chord with any one of them. Yet, to its credit, the film never fully fails either. It was able to hold on to what little grasp it had of the audience's attention by means of its pacing and fairly intriguing subplot. Sure, it felt like we were watching Alice's experiment tapes, but at least if gave something for you to latch onto while the rest of the mediocre gang of survivors catch up.
I wanted to like this movie. Australia turns out decent to excellent horror movies on the regular. But this movie simply fell short of even optimistically benign expectations. I couldn't find myself to appreciate the cluttered concepts that played out more like cliches and plagiarism than homage or properly disguised idea-meshing. Zombies are running their course, it would seem. And while this won't be the last zombie film we see this year, undoubtedly, this isn't a good forecast for a sub-genre that is running out of directions to go. Can we find something inventive to latch onto in the zombie sub-genre? I'm sure it's possible. We'll be looking for just that.