Main cast: Ben O’Toole (Howard North), Monica Bellucci (Finnegan), Caroline Ford (Molly), Tess Haubrich (Torquel), Epine ‘Bob’ Savea (Rangi), Felix Williamson (Ginsberg), Goran D Kleut (Lurch), and David Wenham (Luther)
Director: Kiah Roache-Turner
Set in a world where demons are constantly at war with humans, and a bunch of heavily-armed covert society called the Nekromancers are out to get them before they get everyone else, Nekrotonic is everything the somewhat recent Ghostbusters movie wanted to be. It utilizes kick-ass Ghostbusters-like set pieces, complete with big guns and all, with the protective gear upgraded to something sleek, sexy, and shiny – more akin to Tron. Anyone ordered girl power? Here, two ladies simply kick ass while the main lead kind of being something they drag along most of the time. The monsters are more menacing, and best of all, there are no horrible improvised one-liners to ruin any scene.
Howard North is a sewage worker paired with his buddy Rangi. Both men are bullied around by Howard’s adoptive brother, and it’s a dirty, smelly, and sadly dead end business as usual. Rangi, however, is one of those many people who are enthralled with a new mobile game. Think Pokémon Go – the company behind this game is in fact called Daemomon, heh – only instead of hunting those cute things, players will be hunting all kinds of spooks.
What these players aren’t aware of is that those spooks are real, and those spooks that are successfully hunted end up fueling our villain Finnegan’s diabolical plan to attain immortality. There is another catch: by signing up and no doubt agreeing to all kinds of clauses they never actually read, these players allow Finnegan to send her own demonic minions to possess these players when the need arises.
Trouble begins when Rangi accidentally scans Howard with his game scanner and finds that Howard registers as an “unknown” spook on the game. Capturing Howard causes the man to experience a big headache, and worse, it alerts Finnegan as well as everyone else scanning for these things of his location. A possessed player tries to kill Howard, only for him and Rangi to be met in the nick of time by Nekromancers Luther and his daughters Molly and Torquel. Rangi is killed while they are trying to get away, while Luther sacrifices himself to let the others flee.
Howard quickly learns that he is the son of a powerful Nekromancer couple – of whom one of them is Finnegan. What happened was that Finnegan discovered that demons are using the Internet to ensnare their victims – this explains the state of social media these days, I tell you – and went online herself to confront them. She was defeated and corrupted, becoming one of them and killing her husband in the process. Her husband managed to get Howard away from her, but now, after all these years, Howard’s mother has found him.
Meanwhile, all the Nekromancers in town had been killed off one by one, their heads decapitated, and now Molly and Torquel are the last of them in this neighborhood. Like it or not, they need Howard to help them foil Finnegan’s plan, but our hero is untrained and kind of whiny. Still, he’s undoubtedly powerful – he manages to bring back Rangi, as a wraith companion, without realizing how he did it, and he will go on to do some amazing things when he is pressed later in this movie. Still, he’s mostly carried along, with our heroines kicking rear ends and basically being the brain and the brawn of the whole operation. Oh, and there is no icky romance too, which is a pleasant surprise.
Okay, the good things first. Nekrotonic is a fast-paced, fun movie that is best enjoyed with popcorn and fizzy drinks. It’s not deep or full of deep meanings – it’s just an action-packed movie that exists to entertain the audience with hot girls and gun-fu, and really, that can only be a good thing. Rangi could have been an annoying punchline machine on paper, but he is fortunately more tolerable once he’s a wraith. Our hero isn’t entirely useless either, as he gets to do some things here and there to help the ladies out.
On the down side, the CGI can be hit or miss, although I’m inclined to be more forgiving about this because I’m still having fun anyway. I believe this movie didn’t have a big budget, so there’s that too. Another issue I have is that the late third or so feels like it’s slapped together in a rush after all the build up in the early parts of the movie. I don’t know whether it was because they had to rush due to the money running out, or it was some post-production editing issue, but the movie ends up feeling rather anticlimactic as it reaches its end. Maybe it was just me, but I expected something… bigger and more dramatic, I guess, than the hilarious thing that showed up as the big bad. To refer to the recent Ghostbusters again, while I like Nekrotonic much better in its early two thirds, I feel that Ghostbusters trumps it in the grand climactic denouement department.
Still, no matter. Nektronic, for all its flaws, is a fun, cheesy, and occasional kitschy kind of fun. Just take note that this movie in places may feel more like the first episode of a series than a movie in its own right. Mind you, I won’t mind seeing a series being spun out of this movie, so there’s that.