Thursday, August 08, 2019

The Roache-Turners’ Nekrotronic

It turns out those mind-numbing internet games are powered by the pentagram rather than Pentium. For millennia, necromancers have battled demons, tooth and nail, but the forces of darkness have really upped their game during the internet age. It is up to a formerly oblivious necromancer and his rag-tag band of allies to foil a web-based scheme for total planetary domination in Kiah & Tristan Roache-Turner’s Nekrotronic, which opens tomorrow in Los Angeles.

The latest internet game craze is devilishly addictive—and just plain devilish. People think it is cool to be able to view the wraiths and ghosts around them, but they do not realize they are really real. The app also opens up a backdoor through which the demons can suck out users’ souls. Unfortunately, Rangi, Howie North’s mate and partner in the garbage collection trade perishes from his use of the demon app, but he comes back to haunt (or hang with) him as a wraith. It certainly freaks North out, but he will soon have wilder revelations to process.

Basically, as the orphaned son of two esteemed necromancers, he is the prophesized prodigy of all prodigies. Unfortunately, his mother Finnegan succumbed to the dark side and killed his father, right after he managed to arrange magical protections for North. That is all gone now, but at least he gets a crash course in necromancy from three who have survived Finnegan’s relentless war on necromancers—grizzled Luther and his two grown daughters, Molly and Torquel. Oops, make that two surviving necromancers.

Nekrotronic is even more unruly and chaotic than the Roache-Turner Brothers’ Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. With all its flashing lights and over-the-top carnage, Nekrotronic is tailor-made for an ADD-addled generation raised on Candy Crush. That sounds cynical, but its eagerness to please is quite impressive. Frankly, there are a lot of clever elements the Roache-Turners do not fully capitalize on, because they are already moving on to something new and different.

Of course, it helps enormously having Monica Bellucci vamping it up something infernal as Finnegan. It is like she is getting revenge for all the films that roughly abused her characters, most notably Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible. She definitely seems to enjoy being evil, especially when belittling blokes like North.

Ben O’Toole certainly brings out North’s blokiness, but that is appropriate, since he is a rather passive fellow, who just gets caught up in the maelstrom. Bob Epine Savea has plenty of shticky goofball moments as Rangi, but he wears well over time, becoming something of a trusted companion for characters and audience alike. Caroline Ford and Tess Haubrich both step up nicely, assuming the action responsibilities as hard-charging sisters, but the latter really shines as the take-no-prisoners Torquel.

Nekrotronic is quite a bit of fun, but definitely in a meathead kind of way. Yet, that makes it rather refreshing. Recommended for fans of kitchen sink sf-horror hybrids, Nekrotronic opens tomorrow (8/9) in LA, at the Arena.