The ads for the recent horror comedy Wyrmood: Road of the Dead had me expecting a low budget, “sweded” version of Mad Max: Road Warrior, not necessarily because it was filmed in Australia or included the word “Road” in its title, but because of the film’s costume design. The characters were shown suited up in makeshift armor composed of protective sporting gear like hockey masks & football pads, as if they were preparing to play some kind of Mad Max-themed organized sport. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what’s going on here. Instead, Wyrmood apes a completely different genre franchise: Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy. Had I better prepared myself for the film’s zany zombie comedy tone, I may enjoyed it slightly more than I did, but there’d still be the underlying problem that at this point in time, the world isn’t in any particular need of another straightforward zombie exercise, goofy or not. There are surely still die-hard fans of the genre that will enjoy Wyrmwood for its undead antics, but for everyone else the film has a lot of potential to feel almost entirely pointless.
That’s not to say there aren’t some original concepts in Wyrmwood’s zombie-infested world. There are some entertainingly outlandish ideas about using zombies as an alternative fuel source, a still-alive human who can control the zombies through a telepathic mental connection, and how a person’s blood type can affect their chances of infection, but a few fresh details aren’t really enough to distinguish the film from the run-of-the mill titles of its genre. This more-of-the-same vibe is most apparent during flashbacks to the initial outbreak, a story we’ve all seen told many, many times before. The best chances the film has of standing out on its own as a unique property are in its goofball humor or its incredible costume design, but as mentioned before, even those elements feel familiar to the work of Army of Darkness’ Sam Raimi or Mad Max’s George Miller. The most unique element in the entirety of the film, then, is a mad scientist who schedules disco breaks in his back-of-a-truck laboratory (when he’s not torturing both the alive & the undead), but his presence isn’t of enough consequence to make too big of an impact.
I’m willing to chalk up my disappointment with Wyrmwood as a personal problem and the film’s. I’m sure there are plenty of people for whom another straightforward zombie comedy sounds like a fun-enough endeavor (even with its preference for CGI blood splatter over practical effects). I’ve even enjoyed a few recent ones myself, like the zom-com titles Warm Bodies & Life After Beth, but I felt like those brought a lot more fresh ideas to the table. Wyrmwood is more concerned with having fun than having something interesting to say, which is a generally admirable approach to any genre, but just doesn’t add up to enough here. It would take someone with a certain level of reverence for the inherent charms of the zombie genre to not mind watching more of the same at this point, goofy antics or not. I just didn’t have it in me.