Howard North (Ben O’Toole) has a shitty job working for the family sanitation business. One day and his partner Rangi (Bob Savea) are called into the city to do one more job at the end of a long shift. Rangi has downloaded the latest mobile game where you catch ghosts with your phone. Little do they know that an evil demon, Finnigen (Monica Belluci), is using the app to download demons into human hosts, gathering enough souls to achieve immortality. But Luther (Dave Beamish) and his daughters Molly (Caroline Ford) and Torquel (Tess Haubrich), a trio of badass demon hunters called Nekromancers, know evil is a brewing and come across Howard after Finnigen sends a demon to kill him. Why? Turns out Howard is a latent Nekromancer, probably the most powerful of all, and he is about to discover his place in this war between good and evil.
The challenge when watching Nekrotronic is not comparing it to Tristan and Kiah Roache-Turner’s breakout hit, the awesome zom-com Wyrmwood. That balls out bundle of zombie zaniness took the world by storm, in part to its can-do spirit and work with what you got ethic. That Nekrotronic had a cameo from that first film in the early minutes is delightful but it is still a trigger that reminds you of that first film.When they released the proof of concept for this film, called Daemonrunner, back in 2017 it bore some of the hallmarks of that first film as well; crazy and goopy horror violence, a bit of comedic whit, kick-ass women, and knobs, more knobs than you can shake a stick at.
We’ve joked about the brothers’ fetish for knobs and switches but we can know accept it merely as part of their esthetique, part of their film language, for it also serves a purpose. For every knob, switch or button they press, turning something on, they are giving the visual cue to the audience that something is going to happen. The camera then tracks wires and cables and you best keep your eyes wide open. Chances are, something is going to explode into a bloody mess. Hoo boy, there are some great and bloody explosions in this one, folks.
Nekrotronic has moved away from the barren and dusty bush to a neon soaked and tech driven metropolis. The brothers have splashed the settings with bright colors and beams of light and everyone’s faces are illuminated by the blue glow from their phones. It is hard to pass by without thinking that the brothers have something to say about how much time we spend looking at our devices. The glow and the colors would be very beautiful if you didn’t know that axe wielding demons could be summoned at a moment’s notice through anyone’s cell phones. The scale of Nekrotronic is noticeably bigger and the edges are cleaner.
The creature design is familiar though: milky, vacant eyes and rabid aggression combined with horrible skin complexions. As things move a little faster in the city so do these possessed victims of Finnigen’s schemes.
The comedy is excellent of course, a balance of dry whit and absurdity. As much as there is it is largely carried by Savea’s Rangi, in his delegated role as comic relief through most of the film.
The brothers have infused Nekrotronic with their brand of Nekro-punk, a combination of technical and magical fury as the Nekromancers blast demons with an array of plasma and conventional weapons and good old fashioned magic. There is a whole lot of cyberpunk action going on, characters jacking in to and riding the network. We do not know what you should call the high tech weapon stuff. Tesla-punk? Doesn’t matter as long as it results in demons getting blasted to smithereens.
Another thing we have learned we can depend on is the brothers delivering to us a kick-ass heroine, and glory be Nekrotronic has two of them! Ford and Haubrich carry the torch set before them by Bianca Bradey’s Brooke from Wyrmwood. All out of bubble gum, these seasoned Nekromancers and demon-hunting women lay waste to the demonic landscape, depend on no man to get their jobs done, and head into danger without a second thought. The World needs saving and until Howard gets his shit together they’re the only ones who can, and will do something about it. Evil is afoot and it’s about to have the girls’ boots up it’s evil ass. Luther did parenting right.
If you are going to have a demon-obsessed villain seeking out immortality by devouring the souls of thousands of innocent victims then you would be hard pressed to do better than filling that role with the eternal Monica Belluci. Inhabiting every scene with grace and grandeur, Belluci orates with a smoky velour. When she calmly says that she will chop you head off you believe every word she is saying.
We are showering praises on Nekrotronic because we truly do like it. In the short time that we’ve known the Roache-Turners we can say brothers know what they like and they excel at doing it their way. This new movie is still funny, gory, sexy and exciting to watch.
Yet, as familiar as it feels and it is very much their brand, you cannot help but get the sense that someone was trying to catch their lightning in a bottle this time. As if someone behind the production said, in their very best Lumbergh voice, “We like what you do, but could you do it at about an 8 instead of an 11? That would be great”.
It’s like you’ve dressed up your kid in their Sunday best for church but you just know the little devil really wants to be outside in the rain and the muck, hanging precariously from the monkey bars. Ultimately it lacks that sense of devil may care attitude we got the first time around. The last thing the Roache-Turners require is adult supervision.