You know how there’s always one friend that’s complaining that the characters in a horror movie don’t have any common sense? Yeah, that’s me, backseat driving a horror film. When Wyrmwood began, I was wondering how long it would be before I had to start complaining and telling the characters how to survive a zombie outbreak. Thing is, our two leads in Wyrmwood don’t need this explanation from me. In a refreshing change of pace, brother/sister team Brooke (Bianca Bradey) and Barry (Jay Gallagher) manage to survive the outbreak by using the one-two punch of fast mental and physical reaction, proving that both facets of strength are necessary for survival.
|Did not think I was going to like this one as much as I did.|
Our first indicator that these two are going to be alright occurs during Brooke’s experience in the initial outbreak. From the moment that Brooke realizes that something is wrong with the model she’s photographing, she moves quickly to get herself out of the situation. A display of cat-like reflexes sees her scaling the rafters of the small shed in which she’s working, removing her from harm’s way while the assistant – who just stood there – is attacked, killed and transformed. She then kills the assistant and uses a hook to subdue the model. That she thought to do this and moved so quickly was impressive. What’s her next instinct? She tries to escape, and, upon seeing more zombies outdoors, she finds it to be safer to stay put. This was a nice change from the regular fare, because she realized that she was not equipped to do battle just yet – her cool, level head allowed her to stay alive because the thought balanced out the action. Instead of becoming a one-woman army with a toothpick, Brooke settles for calling her brother to warn him of the imminent danger. This action manages to balance out the perception of the tough female lead with the very real, very caring actions of a concerned sister. That she is not the main love interest was interesting, and lent the character a depth that we don’t normally get in this type of fare: a woman that is smart, strong and caring.
This thoughtful call winds up giving Barry just enough information to survive his initial attack. Despite the low, leisurely pace of his family life up until that point, the phone call puts him on edge so that he’s ready to spring into action when his daughter informs him of the intruder in the kitchen. There’s a world of difference in the reactions of Barry and his wife in the kitchen that demonstrate who is the better one to have around in a zombie outbreak: while he’s busy fighting, he has to direct his wife to attempt to subdue the attacker. Barry’s wife is clearly the weak point: she stops fighting and backs up against the stove while her husband is still struggling with the attacking zombie. She actively gives up to the point that her husband’s life is in jeopardy. When Barry does manage to kill it, he follows Brooke’s lead and utilizes his quick thinking skills by preparing himself with a tool belt and ordering his wife and daughter to put on gas masks, then moves quickly to their car. It’s this action that saves them from the horde outside their house. Once again, the combination of fast thinking and strength winds up saving lives.
|This group was great.|
As the film progresses, the physical speed of both characters is far outpaced by their quick mental jumps. While he is still fast in his physical reactions, Barry deduces that zombie breath can function as a type of power source, and comes to the realization that this is why the zombies move faster at night. This not only moves the plot along, but saves the lives of the small band of male survivors. Brooke, for her part, can not move during her captivity, and has to rely on her thinking skills in order to survive. Her realization of the telepathic zombie bond is used to fuel an escape strategy that employs both the use of her new mental ability as well as her quick physical response. What I found the most interesting is the Brooke did not have to use sex once to save herself. There was no pleading, no flashing of breasts, no seductions – just good, old-fashioned deduction and strategy.
It’s worth noting that the Doctor (Berryn Schwerdt) serves as a contrast to these two characters in terms of his speed. The Doctor’s movements, particularly when dancing, are slow and theatrical. He’s deliberate in his movements as a way to strike fear into Brooke, and the hesitations in his torture of physical subjects mark him as a sadist that wants to build as much terror as he can. He’s also a bit slow on the uptake – he’s studying and experimenting on the zombies and captive humans, but does not really appear to glean much knowledge from these experiments. It’s as though his slow pace has impacted his ability to obtain and synthesize meaning from his work. His pace is still slow during Brooke’s escape mission, during which his fingers are bitten off and he hesitates when amputating his hand. Ultimately, it’s the Doctor that perishes, while Brooke – fast-thinking and quick-moving – is rewarded with survival and escape.
|This image just appeals to me.|
Wyrmwood manages to combine the two halves of the survival pie in order to demonstrate that the speed of both the body and the mind are necessary to surviving an attack on your life. We see characters that are not only physically fast, but also manage to retain their wits in order to find a solution. I couldn’t criticize that; it was nice to see. Here’s hoping that this realization gives us more films where we get to see characters think their way out of a bad situation before they start in with the shovel and the shotgun.