The new sci-fi-horror-comedy NEKROTRONIC comes crashing into theaters this week from its homeland of Australia, and hot damn are we excited for you all to see it. To get you ready for the madness of NEKROTRONIC, we caught up with co-writers Tristan Roache-Turner and Kiah Roache-Turner (who also directed the film). They’ve worked together on other films, like Wyrmwood and DaemonRunner, and so far, seem like a truly winning team. A dynamic, demonic duo, if you will. We asked them some of our most burning questions about their new release:
How did you come up with the concept of demons existing in the digital realm?
Kiah Roache-Turner: I think the original idea was a riff on a William Gibson concept. Gibson is this brilliant sci-fi novelist who was the first to come up with the idea of ‘cyberspace’ and who, I believe, coined the term ‘the net’ in the 1980’s in one of his first novels ‘Neuromancer’. The original name for our film was ‘Nekromancer’ which is obviously inspired by that book. Anyway, Gibson had the idea that these old programs that had been hanging around on the internet for so many years had gone rogue and become AI’s and turned into digital gods and demons. We freakin’ LOVED this idea and once you start playing with it, the notion of sucking human souls through iPhones and a satanic Pokemon Go game just seemed to come pretty naturally.
Tristan Roache-Turner: I watched all the Poltergeist and Ghostbusters movies as a kid and absolutely loved that kinda shit. I’m also a huge Clive Barker fan and a lot of his stories involve demons just invisibly loitering around and messing with people.. over the past few decades there’s been a huge societal habit that’s emerged of people staring into phones and just screens in general (myself included) – all of this was sloshing around in my mind during development.
Was the choice to have the demons possess people via a smartphone app meant to be a commentary on our addiction to our devices?
Kiah Roache-Turner: Absolutely. Unquestionably. Yes. I mean, all you have to do is look around you at the world and see how every second person just has their head buried in a phone, completely zombified by this technology, and it’s not hard to feel that something very weird is happening to humanity right now. This brilliant, genius technology that we’ve invented is literally sucking our lives away and so to make the creative, story-leap to replace the word ‘lives’ with ‘souls’ was a very easy jump to make. At the same time, this is just a fun comic-book movie and we didn’t want the social commentary aspect to overpower the adventure. If somebody watches the movie and sees it as a social commentary about the dangers of ‘device addiction’, great. But if somebody else watches it and sees it as just a cool story with lots of ghosts, gadgets, shotguns, crazy monsters and head explosions, then that’s great too.
Tristan Roache-Turner: … if there ARE demons and ghosts out there, it seems likely that they’d hang around human technology because that’s where all of our attention seems to be directed these days.. the infatuation with social media (again, myself included) seems to kind of steal small pieces of peoples souls .. seems like a good place to go if you’re into soul eating and interested in snacking on that kind of thing.
What films (or other media) did you look to for inspiration?
Kiah Roache-Turner: Oh, wow, SO many! Me and my brothers are pretty full-on film-geeks so our movies tend to be pretty derivative. I guess the original impetus was to take Ghostbusters, The Matrix and The Exorcist, mix it all up in a bucket, add lots of blood and heavy weaponry and see what came out the other end. But looking at the film now I can see that there’s a lot of Evil Dead 2 in there, some Big Trouble in Little China, lashings of The Thing, just a hint of Hellraiser and a healthy dose of Bad Taste too, just for good measure!
Tristan Roache-Turner: I loved The Frighteners and Braindead and am a massive fan of Ash from Evil Dead 2 – Bruce Campbell and Nicholas Cage (in Raising Arizona) were always popping into my head when we were writing.
Why are the monsters “demons” if there are no other religious or spiritual references in the movie?
Kiah Roache-Turner: That’s a GREAT question, I’m really glad you asked that. We had long conversations about that very thing all throughout the writing process. Obviously, when you bring up Heaven and Hell, Demons and Nekromancers, who in the context of this film I guess would represent ‘Angels’, you immediately run up against the question of religion. My brother and I grew up catholic, we’re both unaffiliated these days, but when you grow up that steeped in religious ideas they tend to stick with you and they’ve certainly found their way into our work over and over again. So, the themes of ‘sacrifice’, good vs evil and demonic possession pop up constantly in the films that we’ve made. But, again, this is supposed to be a FUN movie, you know? Like Ghostbusters. And we didn’t want the religious aspect to overshadow the story. Also, I feel like we’ve kind of seen that movie a thousand times before, haven’t we? And there are SO many religions on the planet and they all seem to make references to ghosts, demons and angels of one kind or another and so why should we place our story firmly in Catholicism? Wouldn’t that mean, by definition, that we would be excluding anybody who had other beliefs? We wanted to craft a movie that anybody could enjoy regardless of their denomination. So, we decided to leave out any religious references and leave all that stuff unsaid. It can be whatever you want it to be. And also we just love demons. Who doesn’t love demons? Any movie with demons in it is awesome. I guess the spiritual thing is the same but spirituality is a lot more flexible. The concept of spirituality can exist without religion. The film, weirdly, is VERY spiritual. This is a world where we posit that monsters and super-beings exist all around us, the afterlife exists, souls exist, we all live on after we die, which is a huge concept if you think about it. We had a lot more philosophising in some of the earlier cuts, a lot more intellectual discussions between characters about ‘what all this means’, but at the end of the day the film tells you what it wants to be and this film just wanted us to cut out all that boring bullshit and get to the next head explosion.
Tristan Roache-Turner: I would’ve loved to have gotten some more demonic, witchy, evil symbolism into the film.. I had a whole idea for a scene showing the preparation of the Nekroplasm in the Nekroportal.. it needed human bones, blood, chickens feet, charcoal and (un)holy water all blended together in a huge processer and then syphoned off into barrels which would then be used to fill the Nekroportal in order to 3D print demons.. but we just didn’t have the time in the schedule.
Did you write the role of Finnegan specifically for Monica Bellucci?
Kiah Roache-Turner: The short answer is no. It’s kind of obvious if you look at the name ‘Finnegan’ which is pretty blatantly Irish. I never in my wildest dreams thought that we would get an actor as cinematically iconic as Monica Belluci! Luckily Andrew (Andrew Mason, Co-Producer) had a pre-existing relationship with her from the Matrix movies and sent her the script and she loved it! Signed on pretty much immediately. We were beyond stoked, I can tell you! I think she was keen to play a character who was out-and-out, unapologetically evil, something she hadn’t had a chance to do yet in her career. I think there was some brief talk about changing the name but she said “No! I am Finnegan!” So, we just figured, ‘Oh, well, stuff it! ’, I guess her mum was French/Italian and her dad was … Irish? Once she comes onscreen and starts decapitating people with bolts of electricity who cares what her name is? She played it exactly as it was written. Didn’t want to change a thing. She was GREAT to work with, such a lovely person. I think the only thing we did change was the wardrobe. Originally Finnegan was much more of a weird sci-fi, black lab-coat wearing, neo-punk ‘satanist’ type and we just re-wrote her to have a bit more style. I mean, come on! If you are going to have Monica Bellucci in your movie she has to look fabulous, right?!
Tristan Roache-Turner: Monica Bellucci in our movie chopping off heads, eating souls and power-blasting David Wenham.. I still pinch myself to wake up from this awesome dream.
What’s your favorite scary movie?
Kiah Roache-Turner: Goddammit, I HATE that question! To paraphrase Highlander ‘there can NEVER be only one!’. Um … Can I have a top-five? Even THAT’S hard because there are so many amazing horror movies. If you put a gun to my head I’d say that on any given day it would be The Thing, Alien, The Exorcist, Evil Dead 2 and Dawn of The Dead. But recently Hereditary and The Witch were films that just blew the back of my head off. I probably still think about those movies about twice a week on average. I just can’t get some of the images from them out of my brain! Those two directors are so irritatingly talented. But then Get Out was amazing, I REALLY loved Spring and then you start talking about Guillermo Del Toro and we haven’t even mentioned Jaws! No! I can’t do it! There are just so many awesome horror films out there it’s impossible to give you just one!
Tristan Roache-Turner: Ever? The Exorcist, hands down. Honourable mention to The Conjuring and IT. I also LOVE the relentless sense of dread inflicted by The Witch and more recently by The Wind, both had fantastic production design too!
For more on NEKROTRONIC, make sure to check out Chloe’s review here. NEKROTRONIC is now in select theaters and VOD.