Sometimes, I sit around and think about how it blows that just about every video-game film adaptation is complete and utter trash (except for you, my precious Mortal Kombat). While not based on a videogame itself, some adaptations could learn a thing or two from the high-energy, demonic ass-kicking entertainment that is Nekrotronic…
…Directed by Kiah Roache-Turner and written by Kiah & Tristan Roache-Turner, the same team behind Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, Nekrotronic centers around Howard (Dave Beamish), a down on his luck guy who finds himself mixed in with a badass family of Nekromancers who claim he has Nekromancer blood, and only he can stop a powerful demon named Finnigan (Monica Bellucci), who is using the internet for her minions to possess the souls of humans all over the world. And don’t worry. Nekrotronic packs all of the backstory you need on Nekromancers and internet surfing demons into an opening cartoon that sets the stage for action packed mayhem, exposition be damned!
Taking us on this adventure through the nine circles of digital hell are a set of characters that have all become pretty standard in films like Nekrotronic, but are a blast to watch nonetheless. There’s Howard, whose life is literal shit-he spends his days transporting human waste-emphasized by us meeting him as his gaming obsessed colleague/friend, Rangi (Epine Bob Savea) accidentally unleashes a geyser of liquefied crap on him. There’s also the demon-fighting sisters who take Howard in, Molly (Caroline Ford) and Torquel (Tess Haubrich), both of whom are wearing so much eye shadow, they could paint the set with it. It’s the sort of team we’ve seen often, going up against a female demon in Finnigan, who is as quirky as she is intimidating, demanding that her accomplices wear Santa hats during her introduction. Nekrotronic is a female dominant film with some kickass women, and my only complaint here is that we have to watch yet another story in which some out of his element, average Joe is the hero, when it should be the true heroines of the film, the women, but I digress.
There’s more to the characters that I won’t mention because I don’t spoil shit here, but what I will say is that Nekrotronic is like a soap opera told under the guise of a high-octane, videogame aesthetic. There’s a ton of drama going on between this group of characters, but the Turners aren’t aiming for you to take a moment and have a good cry. Nekrotronic screeches like a bat out of hell, racing through neon-lit sets to the beat of an adrenaline-inducing score by Michael Lira. Everything about Nekrotronic is ultra-stylized and ultra-colorful. The armor which Howard and the others wear to fight the demons are like a slick combination between Doom and Deadspace, with high-powered weapons that blast balls of explosive color to match. Every few moments, I wanted to pause the scene just to soak in the vibrant look of it all. But the high-octane pacing of Nekrotronic doesn’t allow for much breathing room either, which is a bit of a downside because we hardly get any time to dwell on the very real tragedy and emotions that occur within the film.
But again, if you’re watching Nekrotronic, it’s not for the heartfelt character drama. It’s because you want to see demons get their hellish asses beat, and Nekrotronic more than delivers on that end for a low-budget flick. The Turners never take this film seriously, which leads to loads of exploding bodies, exploding goats, and more than a few exploding heads. Nekrotronic is gleefully gory, with practical effects that rain blood down on the screen. Whether its demons ripping humans to shreds, or Howard and company blasting them back to Hell, this film is full of the videogame type of action it promises, with a jaw-dropping practical creature in the end that goes full on Doom Cyberdemon, minus the gut-shredding machine gun.
As you can already tell, Nekrotronic is heavy on the visuals and technological aspects of the plot. It’s also heavy on paying tribute to the films/games that likely inspired it. See, one way in which Molly and Torquel dispatch these soul-possessing demons is by trapping them in Hellraiser-like cubes which they call a “trap box”, and storing them where they can later “print” them into a being of flesh that they can destroy. Sound familiar? If you’re thinking Ghostbusters, give yourself a pentagram shaped star. Nekrotronic is Ghostbusters for demons, with soul-suckers that travel the digital highway and possess you through phones, laptops, etc. Some of the demons themselves, when not running around as glowy-eyed humans, reminded me of the colorful ghosts we saw in the Ghostbusters reboot. And that’s a good thing.
Now, despite aesthetics that will make you ooh and ah, the tone/pacing are what’s really going to separate those who like and dislike Nekrotronic. The Turner’s clearly have a love for genre, and are doing everything they can in this film to keep it entertaining, often with comedy that, frankly, only provides one or two good laughs. Because everything moves so quickly, there is very little suspense in the film. Nekrotronic has the viewer on overload throughout most of its ninety+ minute runtime, giving it little time to scene build outside of a few important moments which Turner thankfully slows down just a tad. Emotionally, the film is a touch soulless, but that doesn’t mean there’s no heart, which Nekrotronic has plenty of.
I don’t want you to get confused with my Doom references, because the plot and tone here are nothing like one of the best horror shooters of all time, but, Nekrotronic is a better Doom film than the actual Doom film with The Rock. Nekrotronic has badass characters, big guns, and really big demons, and you could do worse on a Sunday afternoon than inject this action-packed demon fuel into your brain.
Nekrotronic releases on VOD from Momentum Pictures on August 9th.
By Matt Konopka