TIFF Review: ‘Nekrotronic’ beams a demon to your cell phone

 
 

Editor’s Note: Vanyaland’s Nick Johnston is north of the border all week long for the Toronto International Film Festival; click here for our continued coverage from the fest and also check out our official preview.

A film about a shit-slinging dude who discovers that he’s a “nekromancer” — an all-powerful badass who must protect normal humans from the demons that might try to steal their souls — by having his friend try to catch him in a malevolent version of Pokemon Go is already going to have a hard time keeping one’s interest just based on that synopsis alone. But somehow Nekrotronic manages to get even lamer than that.

The latest work from the Roache-Turners, the pair of Aussie directors who a few years back brought you Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, has a promising start (a fun animated exposition dump at the start), occasionally fun gore, and one lovely star turn (more on that in a minute) but you’ll be playing spot-the-reference pretty goddamn quickly. The whole movie is cribbed piecemeal from other, better films with what genuinely feels like love from the pair. It’s not like stealing things from the things you love is necessarily a bad thing — just look at Duncan Jones’ Moon for a great example — but you better have some kind of hook, or bring something new to the table, and this, well, doesn’t.

It does have one killer feature though: An impossibly hammy performance by Monica Belluci, last seen to American eyes in a dream of David Lynch’s, which features her, amongst other things, admonishing the CEO of her evil phone-app company to “put on his Santa hat.” She’s the villain here, the hero’s mother (of course!), and she could not be having a better time running circles around the material.

I almost want you to check it out just for her alone, and it’s the kind of B-movie casting that revitalizes careers and elevates otherwise pretty plain movies (like, say, when Christopher Plummer shows up in a campy cash-in like Starcrash as a way to get producers to pay for an Italian vacation for him). But yeah, there’s not much here otherwise, though you might find more here than I did — it is a breezy watch, and might be good for a laugh or two.

Follow Nick Johnston on Twitter @onlysaysficus. Featured image courtesy of TIFF.