Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"The idea of casting a 55-year-old actress as a succubus feels like one whose time has come and Bellucci is more than up to the job." | Photo: Courtesy of FrightFest

Low budget films about ordinary guys suddenly discovering they're the chosen one and fighting to save the world from heavily CGI-enhance demons are a dime a dozen, but every now and again one comes along that manages to stand out. Nekrotronic has achieved this through an extraordinary feat of production. Not only has it secured the star power of Monica Bellucci but it has a stonking soundtrack by Michael Lira that makes it feel as if it's in a whole different league.

The idea of casting a 55-year-old actress as a succubus feels like one whose time has come and Bellucci is more than up to the job. There's none of the simpering and pouting that a younger woman might have brought to the role, but rather a style, a gaze and a self-possession that obviates the need to possess anybody else. Her Finnegan is a demon at the top of her game, poised for the culmination of an ancient conflict and, well, world domination and all that. The plan hinges on a Pokemon Go-style game which encourages users to suck evil spirits into their phones. Gotta catch 'em all!

Into the middle of all this stumbles lowly sewage worker Howard (David Wenham). This being not just horror but comedy, and Australian comedy at that, it takes about five minutes for him to get covered in shit, but that's nothing to the shit he's going to have to wade through when he finds out who his real parents were and discovers his destiny. Fortunately he has two seriously kick-ass women (Caroline Ford and Tess Haubrich) looking after him as he gets the hang of it, plus a best friend (Epine Bob Savea) whose accidental transformation into a wraith turns out to be quite handy. The banter between Wenham and Savea is essential to preserving the comedy element as the world-in-peril tension escalates and, despite the occasional misfire, largely succeeds in making us care about them despite their otherwise shallow character development.

The idea that either of the women would fall for the magically talented but otherwise useless Howard is stretching things a bit but hey, this is comedy. Fortunately not too much rests on it, as the majority of the time we're focused on action, shot with a lot of Dutch camera angles and neon trimmings to give it the character of a comic book. The plot isn't very complicated but director Kiah Roache-Turner keeps up the pace and Bellucci's formidable presence - even with quite limited screentime - does much more to create a sense of peril than the special effects.

A film which, mobile phone-related plot aside, feels like it was written in the Eighties and simply sat on a shelf waiting for the cost of filming in this style to come down, Nekrotronic will appeal to fans of period genre works. Whilst it's unfortunate that some of its humour also feels as if it's rooted in that era and there are issues with the quality of the dialogue overall, there's plenty to distract viewers from this. Roache-Turner has done well to create a film that feels much bigger and more epic in character than it really is. You might not find it terribly memorable but it's fun whilst it lasts.

Reviewed on: 05 Aug 2019
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Nekrotronic packshot
As the eternal fight between Nekromancers and their nemeses rages on, they’ve become locked in a new type of cyber warfare. An app is being designed to send the soul of any user to hell. The fate of all mankind now rests on the shoulders of a sanitation worker and his best friend.
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Director: Kiah Roache-Turner

Writer: Kiah Roache-Turner, Tristan Roache-Turner

Starring: Ben O’Toole, Epine Bob, Savea, Dave Beamish, Monica Bellucci

Year: 2018

Runtime: 99 minutes

Country: Australia


Frightfest 2019

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