Director Kiah Roache-Turner – who co-writes with his brother Tristan Roache-Turner – made the rambling Ozsploitation zombie skit Wyrmwood, and now turn their attention to more demonic matters in an amiable, inventive, lively romp that feels a bit too much like a ‘90s comic book with multiple variant covers and improbable anatomy but still has a lot of charm … plus Monica Bellucci as a cyber-savvy demon queen who is infesting the planet with evil spirits via a Pokemon Go-like phone app game. Howard (Ben O’Toole) and Rangi (Bob Savea), a pair of regular schlubs who empty cesspools for a living (yes, there’s a shower of shit joke early on), get mixed up with momentous events when Howard turns out to be a predestined saviour-hero enlisted by a veteran demon-hunter (David Wenham) and his two tough gun-pointing chick daughters (Caroline Ford, Tess Haubrich) to help thwart Finnegan (Bellucci), a demon who has a personal connection to the hero.
It rushes between set-pieces that feature a lot of lighting effects, zapping and flip one-liners, but also involve the deaths of apparently major characters – though at least one of those hangs about as a glowing ghost to join the impromptu Scooby Gang who have to save the world. Fun as it mostly is, especially when Bellucci is onscreen, it’s also noisier than it is memorable – there’s a distinctive, very colourful look and even the soundtrack (which includes interesting use of ‘You’re Just Too Good to Be True’) is well-crafted, but the story beats feel like retreads of retreads, in the slacker comedy stuff (a carryo-over from Wyrmwood) as well as the fantasy world-building threat-from-beyond business. I enjoyed this while it was running in front of my eyes, but it kind of self-destructs in the mind afterwards.
Here’s the FrightFest listing.
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