About a third of the way into Nekrotronic, around the time the protagonists are sending a demon’s soul through a gigantic 3D printer so they can then destroy it with an enormous plasma gun, your brain may ask the question, “what the hell am I watching?” It’s a fair question, because Nekrotronic – the latest offering from Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner (Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead) – is as bullfuck crazy a cinematic offering as you’re likely to see this year. But perhaps a better question is, “am I enjoying the experience?”, because that will very likely be answered with an enthusiastic, “fucken oath!”
Nekrotronic tells the tale of affable-but-luckless sewage worker, Howard North (Ben O’Toole) who through an accident of fate thanks to his app-obsessed co-worker Rangi (Epine Bob Savea) discovers he is, in fact, a powerful Nekromancer and capable of seeing ghosts and battling demons. Howard is roughly taught the tricks of the trade by fellow Nekromancer, Luther (David Wenham) and his daughters, Molly (Caroline Ford) and Torquel (Tess Haubrich). Add to this the evil machinations of super-powered demoness Finnegan (Monica Bellucci), who plans to suck the souls of Sydney’s citizens simultaneously, and you’ve got the zany premise for 97 minutes of fast-paced, neon-hued insanity.
See, Nekrotronic’s story functions more as a video game cutscene, to give brief context for the next section of frenetic, action-packed fun, rather than a ponderous exploration of the world. Which is probably a good thing, because the story is frequently utter nonsense, albeit of an engagingly silly flavour.
The Roache-Turner brothers were clearly weaned on the cinematic teat of George Miller, Sam Raimi and John Carpenter, and the genre-crossing mash-up of The Matrix, Ghostbusters and a heavy helping of 1980s schlock comes together in a joyful explosion of enthusiastic insanity, cheerfully disregarding lofty notions of restraint or logic. There’s an agreeable ‘throw everything at the screen and see what sticks’ enthusiasm to the proceedings, which keeps things lively and unpredictable.
It’s not a perfect film, mind you. The first fifteen minutes are the weakest, with some awkwardly (and likely studio mandated) exposition bogging down the opening and a few attempts at quirky comedy that land with a thud. However, once the training wheels come off, the gleeful lunacy takes over and rarely relents.
Performance wise, Ben O’Toole is an agreeable everyman thrust into a situation beyond his comprehension and Caroline Ford is extremely convincing as a kick arse demon-hunter out for revenge. However, this is indisputably Monica Bellucci’s film and she absolutely nails the role, clearly relishing every goofy second that she’s on screen, chewing the scenery and sucking souls with great alacrity. Bellucci’s performance paired with the stunningly-realised practical special effects from Sydney’s own Make-Up Effects Group, not to mention Kiah’s ambitious, kinetic direction, all combine to make Nekrotronoic look and feel like a film much pricier than its relatively modest budget, and while it lacks some of Wyrmwood’s earthier charms, it frequently dazzles.
Nekrotronic is a deftly directed B-grade midnight movie with lashings of laconic Aussie humour and splattery set pieces. Boasting a vivaciously over-the-top performance from Monica Bellucci, oodles of slime-dripping demons and a clear adoration of 1980s cult cinema, it knows precisely what it wants to be and embraces that identity wholeheartedly. If that’s not your jam you’re unlikely to be converted, but audiences who appreciate that style of lunacy will suck it down like a fresh soul.
To find out where Nekrotronic is playing near you, head to https://www.filmink.com.au/nekrotronic