It’s obvious very early on that Nekrotronic is a labour of love. The second film by Australian brothers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner was introduced to the Midnight Madness crowd as an ode to the (horror) films of their youth and their love of the classics is evident throughout every frame of their ghost hunting horror comedy.
The Ozploitation film follows Howard (Ben O’Toole), a put upon sanitation worker who discovers that he is actually a powerful Necromancer – the last line of defense in a never-ending battle against demons. The convoluted history (and foundation for the film’s hilariously ridiculous premise) is conveyed in a cute animated sequence that opens the film, laying out the rules for possession and how the internet has changed the rules of the game.
Yes, folks “the internet” is a huge part of the demon plot.
If you can’t get on board with that sentence, Nekrotronic probably isn’t for you. This is a film that wears its penchant for dumb jokes and physical comedy on its sleeve (Howard is literally covered in a geyser of shit in his introductory scene). At times the sheer stupidity of the character and his best friend Rangi (Epine Bob Savea) can get tiring, but it’s also a big part of the film’s charm.
The plot itself is beyond silly: Finnegan (Monica Bellucci, hamming it up accordingly), the Queen of the Demons, has concocted a convoluted plan involving a Pokémon-like phone game that will allow her to consume approximately 1.3 million souls once her wraiths have set up a network of Nekropod power boxes in a pentagram around the city. See? Silly.
On the day of her plans, Rangi accidentally activates Howard’s latent Necromancer powers. His sudden reveal throws both sides into disarray, but after a run-in with Finnegan, Howard ultimately decides to side with sisters Molly (Caroline Ford) and Torquel (Tess Haubrich) to help stop the apocalypse and save humanity. Family secrets, zombified talking heads and 3D printed demons ensue.
O’Toole is solid in the zero to hero role and he has great rapport with Savea, even if the latter has virtually nothing to do in the film outside of comic relief. Faring better in both characterization and contributions to the plot are the sisters, who have a believably familial friction that masks their affection for each other. Technically speaking, the film boasts a plethora of special effects to showcase everything from possessions to the way a soul travels along through the internet. The results fall somewhere between Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners and the childish goofiness of the Goosebump films. Fans of Ghostbusters, The Matrix, The Evil Dead and Re-Animator will likely get a chuckle from the bevy of homages.
Where the film falters, or the component that most dampens its enthusiastically juvenile appeal, is the formulaic plot. Bellucci is a campy villain and her internet domination plans are beyond silly, but the accidental white hetero saviour who swoops in the save the day (at the expense of the far more qualified female protagonists no less) is at best too familiar and at worst frustratingly reductive. We’ve seen this plot a million times and Nekrotronic brings absolutely nothing new to the table.
Is it pleasurable to watch if you’re 16, high or both? Sure. The Roache-Turner brothers clearly have the talent and the love of filmmaking on their sides. Here’s hoping that in the future they go beyond simply paying homage to the films of their childhood and try their hands at fresher, less explored terrain.