Low budget Aussie horror-comedy Wyrmwood (2014) was one of my top 10 anticipated films of the year. Looking to circumvent recent disastrous box-office efforts by Australian films, those behind this flick decided to try something a little different. A one night only (conveniently Friday the 13th) big screen release, to be followed by a presumably a big home formats push.
Unfortunately I forgot to take a notepad to the screening tonight, so this will not be one of my usual rambling epics. But I did want to share some thoughts on the film. Firstly, I do love the fact that they tried something a little different in terms of release. It appears to have worked as well. This was a very busy Friday night in Canberra – it was the Brumbies first game of the season and the booze and food laden Multicultural Fest is a massive deal. However, the screening I attended was totally sold out, indicating there is a strong buzz around the film.
The crowd that was there were totally involved in the film as well. They were really ready to laugh and the film got a great reception. Dare I say, most people liked it a little more than I did. As with essentially all low-budget horror films, the script does have its issues. There are occasional moments where it goes interesting places and builds up some mythology – the biblical explanation for the name is one that particularly sticks in my mind. But there is also plenty of poor dialogue that fails to drive the story as it should. I think that films such as this can get by with an average script, if they have a strong story. But unfortunately, the arc of this film is pretty weak. It’s a pretty stock standard horror-comedy narrative, which gets bogged down by a subplot that leaves one of the most promising characters sidelined for a lot of the film. If only there was more of the mythology that is occasionally hinted at, because it could have really set the film apart from the norm.
All of the performers in the film are clearly having a good time here and it is hard not to go along with their boisterous turns. In fact, strangely for a film at this budget level, I don’t think I could really fault any of the performances. Keith Agius, Bianca Bradey and Leon Burchill in particular excel. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the film is the production values. There is a great amount of craftsmanship on display. You never really notice the budget at all and the filmmakers obviously targeted where they wanted to use their funds well. The brilliant looking exploding heads and zombie make-up help to immerse you in the film in a way that the story unfortunately doesn’t.
Verdict: In the end, Wyrmwood is a film to be admired rather than outright loved (well for me at least). The filmmakers have done an incredible job to produce this and get it to such a wide audience with the budget they had available to them. Unfortunately the weak story prevents the film from reaching the cult classic heights I had so hoped for. Schooner of Carlton Draught