×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Nekrotronic’

Maximum energy meets zero originality to numbing effect in a horror-action-comedy mishmash.

Director:
Kiah Roache-Turner
With:
Ben O’Toole, Monica Bellucci, Caroline Ford, Tess Haubrich, Epine Bob Savea, David Wenham.

1 hour 39 minutes

Horror-action-comedy hash “Nekrotronic” has mankind menaced by soul-sucking demons who’ve invaded the internet. A little bit “Tron” meets “Blade,” with a whole lot of other stuff thrown in, this cartoonish Aussie fanboy missive from the brothers Roache-Turner mashes together high energy, lowbrow humor, and a barrage of visual effects to enjoyable but rather numbing effect. Villainness Monica Bellucci may give a lift in some offshore quarters to a hybrid genre exercise whose lack of other star wattage — and excess of every other shiny or explosive thing — suggests target-audience access will be primarily via home formats.

A surfeit of doo-doo jokes start things off unpromisingly as average dude Howie (Ben O’Toole) and space-case sidekick Rangi (Epine Bob Savea) attend the former’s family business of sewage removal, their slogan being “We Take Your Shit.” But it turns out this is both our first and last glimpse of open-air calm before the film dives into a frenetic but monotonous world of subterranean lairs with disco lighting.

Ancient forces of evil (as detailed in an opening animated sequence that may be the highlight here) have recently gotten tech-savvy, and are now doing their dirty work via an online game. When Rangi plays the game, Howie soon discovers he can see off-line wraiths, ghosts, and such that are invisible (but still deadly) to ordinary mortals. Though Rangi soon exits the plane of the living, that doesn’t stop him from materializing to provide more stale stoner humor throughout. Meanwhile, Howie falls in with David Wenham, Caroline Ford, and Tess Haubrich as a father-and-daughters trio of necromancers warring against the demonic powers being marshaled against humanity by Bellucci’s corrupted ex-ally, eventually revealed to be hitherto-oblivious Chosen One Howie’s mum.

Once it gets rolling, “Nekrotronic” delivers nonstop combat, gadgetry, and CGI, albeit in the uninviting loud-’n’-dumb manner of being forced to watch someone else play a video game. The dialogue is wiseass yet witless, the action incessant minus any novelty of style, stunts, or ideas.

If we’ve learned anything by now, it’s that it’s not enough to be a slavishly devoted fanboy: Filmmakers actually need to bring some sensibility of their own to the table. Without that special something extra, a movie like this one can show all the enthusiasm in the world and still play as a generic patchwork of better movies’ over-familiar conceits. The actors here embrace stock types in a tongue-in-cheek fashion without offering the droll lines or visual gags to back that attitude up. They each get one note, including Bellucci, who seems to be having more fun than viewers will experience watching her. (It’s a little depressing to see the estimable Wenham mired in such silliness, but take heart: He isn’t around for long.)

Indeed, all of “Nekrotronic” seems to be having such a good time with itself that you almost feel churlish for finding the party an overbearing slog. The brothers pack the screen with everything from random neon to innumerable dead extras. But the fact that none of this usually-surefire mindless stimulus is remotely inspired — let alone that the plot feels like a barely-there afterthought — turns so much cheerful sound and fury into near-senseless din. Even the stray genuinely funny idea (like bringing people back to life simply by “copying” their corpses in a 3D printer) gets lost in the general barrage.

Director Kiah and producer/co-writer Tristan Roache-Turner threw everything at the wall to see what would stick in their prior zombie comedy “Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead.” But that film’s low-budget scrappiness lent charm to its bad-taste splatstick. By contrast, greatly improved (if still modest by Hollywood fantasy-action standards) tech/design resources here affording all the toys they desire only underlines how their love of genre movies hasn’t yet developed past naked imitation.

Film Review: 'Nekrotronic'

Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Midnight Madness), Sept. 9, 2018. Running time: 99 MIN.

Production: (Australia) An Entertainment One Features, Screen Australia presentation, in association with Create NSW, of a Hopscotch Features, Guerrilla Films production. (World sales: Sierra/Affinity, Beverly Hills.) Producers: Tristan Roache-Turner, Andrew Mason, Troy Lum. Executive producer: John Collee.

Crew: Director: Kiah Roache-Turner. Screenplay: Kiah Roache-Turner, Tristan Roache-Turner. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Tim Nagle. Editor: Christine Cheung. Music: Michael Lira.

With: Ben O’Toole, Monica Bellucci, Caroline Ford, Tess Haubrich, Epine Bob Savea, David Wenham.

More Film

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International

    'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International Box Office With $30 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” led the way at the international box office, summoning $30 million when it opened in 71 foreign markets. The supernatural thriller collected $26.5 million in North America for a global start of $56.5 million. “La Llorona,” based on the Mexican folklore about the Weeping Woman, [...]

  • Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona'

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Wins Worst Easter Weekend in Over a Decade

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters. “La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as one of the most reliable box office draws. Even so, [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content