From the minds of the Roache-Turners – Writer Tristan and Director Kiah (War Games 2009. Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead 2014) comes Nekrotronic. Due in theaters and on VOD on August 9th, 2019, is it worth catching, or should viewers wait for Tarantino to binge on Wright and Wachowski for real?
It does sound like a wild time, though Nekrotronic does have its own story going on. The plot follows Howard North (Ben O’Toole: Hacksaw Ridge 2016), an unlucky sewage worker who gets caught up in a battle between good and evil. Good being a family of demon hunters called the Nekromancers, and bad being a soul-eating demon called Finnegan (Monica Belluci: Brotherhood of the Wolf 2001, The Matrix Reloaded 2003). He teams up with his newfound friends to take her down, only to find out he is more pivotal in defeating her than he realized.
The Wright-esque touches certainly show, especially with the animated exposition intro explaining how demons possess people, and how they can now get to people through their phones. It even asks the viewer if they “got all that” before switching to the title card and getting right into the film. It has neon colors and pixel effects for that video game look that does bring 2010’s Scott Pilgrim Vs the World to mind. While the kitschy soundtrack is rather Tarantino-like.
Still, a film needs more than aesthetics to get by. Nekrotronic’s plot is at least understandable; the Nekromancers, including Caroline Ford (Carnival Row series) and David Wenham (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 2002, 300 2006) are fighting an uphill battle against Finnegan, and O’Toole’s Howard gets dragged along for the ride. If anything, it might be too familiar with its fish-out-of-water, chosen-one element. There may be hints of 1984’s Ghostbusters and Wachowski here, but there is also a little Harry Potter here.
Though unlike the Wizarding World, this film is more urbane than whimsical. Flashy visual effects and makeup jobs abound, which spark as much as the quips and one-liners. The writing is kind of funny in places, though it does not match classic Tarantino. There are plenty of nudges, winks, references and barbs, yet it lacks the tension and drama that, say, 1992’s Reservoir Dogs had. The oncoming end of the world here feels less tense than Mr. Orange trying to keep his identity a secret from Mr. White.
Still, the acting is pretty good. O’Toole makes for a relatable character in his schlub-turned-hero Howard, with Epine Bob Savea (Fantail 2013) making a funny double act with him as his friend Rangi. Ford and Tess Haubrich (Alien: Covenant 2017) do not have much depth to their tough girl roles, though they do it convincingly. In turn, Belluci knows she is not exactly in anything Oscar-worthy and peppers her performance with a little ham that makes her Finnegan quite entertaining.
Yet ultimately, Nekrotronic is a niche film. The story has too many clichés for it to stand out from its forebears, and the writing works better with its gags than its drama. Although, that does not mean it cannot be fun. The film would make a good popcorn flick amongst like-minded friends seeking a cheesy Action Comedy with great visuals. Catch it on VOD, and you switch to Ghostbusters in case it falls short at the party. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Nekrotronic 3 out of 5 stars.
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