dir. Kiah Roache-Turner
Indie darlings Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner made a name for themselves in the horror community thanks to their 2014 festival favourite Wyrmwood (which is perhaps as loved for the underdog story that marked that film’s journey to the screen – shot on weekends for years – as for anything in the work itself). Here they return to that world, promising a follow-up that’s bigger and more expansive.
Following a solider (Luke McKenzie) as he captures zombies for scientists who are searching for a cure, Apocalypse is set after the original film saw the earth fall to undead hordes. Zombie films are usually more fun once the end of the world has been and gone, and this new instalment is at its best when wallowing in what happens after society has crumbled. However the best examples of the subgenre are those that hold a mirror up, with humanity being worse than the threat they face, and although the humans here are mostly repellent, that’s all it is: vaguely dislikeable people fighting even more morally repugnant alternatives. The film may be propulsive and filled with frenetic action, but it doesn’t make space for anything particularly deep.
There’s a debt here too to Ozploitation grindhouse and an endearing low budget quality (even if this does come with some dodgy CGI). It also successfully manages to have a bit more colour and personality, with a healthy wedge of humour offsetting some of the bleaker aspects. And yet, as a zombie movie, there’s little that won’t be familiar to fans, with the inclusion of hybrids and a temporary cure the closest it comes to fresh meat.
For those who want narrative complexity and thematic nuance, Wyrmwood: Apocalypse won’t deliver. But if you’re in the mood for silly, energetic action with lashings of gore, then horror hounds will be happy. Long may the Roache-Turner brothers continue to carve out their own slice out of the zombie horror canon.