NEKROTRONIC **** Australia 2018 Dir: Kiah Roache-Turner. 98 mins
Another confident, crowd-pleasing comic horror from the director of the well-liked WYRMWOOD (co-written with his brother Tristan), Kiah Roache-Turner’s NEKROTRONIC joins a small cycle of killer app movies. In the words of the film’s engaging early animated exposition, “some evil bastard” has figured out how to blast demons into the internet so they can enter the devices we stare at aimlessly for hours each day. A pair of waste-disposal employees (Ben O’Toole, Epine Bob Savea) take a break from their usual routine of sharing videos of donkeys fucking phone boxes when they get drawn into “Daemokon”, an evil riff on POKEMON that has been uploaded to 1.3 billion devices and looks set to give the evildoers access to all of Earth’s souls. Roache-Turner builds a wry, elaborate universe around a pair of genuinely appealing leads: Savea is particularly spry as a riff on the walking corpse sidekick of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, becoming a wraith – “like a ghost on steroids” – and enjoying the satisfaction of stretching his face “like a mofo”. Monica Bellucci has fun in the most surprising casting choice, and the nods to other genre landmarks (including “trap boxes” right out of HELLRAISER) are not overplayed. As with WYRMWOOD, every penny is up there on the screen, with impressive CGI and practical FX and witty use of classic pop music cuts “Don’t Leave Me This Way” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. It also has the odd genuinely disarming moment- none more so than the credible sequence in which the public at large are released from the soul harvesters – only to immediately return to listlessly staring at their digital devices again…almost as if their souls have already been depleted.
Review by Steven West