Directed by Kiah Roache-Turner.
Starring Ben O’Toole, Epine Bob, Savea, Dave Beamish, David Wenham and Monica Bellucci.
A man discovers that he is part of a secret sect of magical beings who hunt down and destroy demons in the Internet.
Aussie filmmaker Kiah Roache-Turner (Wyrmwood) returns with a sophomore feature that sets up a blind date between Ghostbusters and Hellraiser, and mightily prays the two genre classics will give birth to a new body horror cult smash.
Unfortunately, Nekrotronic is a decidedly more mixed affair than Roache-Turner’s resourceful and creative debut, boasting a keenness to please yet lacking the inventively gnarly nous to make it happen.
The Queen of the Underworld, Finnegan (Monica Bellucci), is using a Pokemon Go-esque app to possess human beings and harvest their souls for her nefarious ends. This prompts a determined band of resistance fighters to recruit sanitation worker Howard (Ben O’Toole), who happens to unknowingly be part of a bloodline of powerful Nekromancers, to help fight their cause. Mayhem ensues.
When a film begins with a perfunctory, unfussed two-minute exposition dump, it’s pretty clear it doesn’t care all that much about nuance, and it’s an ethos that defines the entirety of this undeniably bonkers yet at times aggressively forgettable film.
No movie that features a sequence where a human is literally 3D-printed from a Lament Configuration knockoff that harbours their soul should be quite this tough to unreservedly enjoy. Sadly we’re in trouble early with a glut of lousy comic relief banter, but even when the nutty, tech-infused bodily manipulation kicks off a little later, it rarely feels more than high-calorie and low-effort.
Despite a seemingly clear objective from the outset, Nekrotronic never seems quite sure of what it wants to be, with a tone that’s seldom fully reconciled. The whole is far too junky to take the earnest character drama seriously – almost everyone has a tortured past, of course – yet the trashy core lacks the gutter smarts that might make it a breezy guilty pleasure.
The performances do sing, at least, especially lead O’Toole, who thoroughly convinces as the baffled Aussie everyman thrust into a ridiculous situation, and Monica Bellucci deserves praise for fully committing to the hammy requirements of her ridiculous part. Quite how they landed her, however, is anyone’s guess, along with David Wenham, who swings by for a quick cameo.
Production-wise, criticising the ropey visual effects is probably missing the point, though given the clear budgetary constraints, they’re honestly not all bad. The practical effects meanwhile prove decidedly more impressive, especially in pic’s third act, where Roache-Turner very nearly seems to find the right barmy groove.
Nekrotronic is fundamentally nonsense, but how much you’ll spring for said nonsense depends entirely on your tolerance for throw-everything-at-the-wall schlock. All things considered, you may find yourself wishing you had more fun with it.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter for more film rambling.