FrightFest Review: Turbo Kid


Bursting onto screens like a low-rent Mad Max for the cartoon generation, François Simard and Anouk and Yoann-Karl Whissell’s gloriously gory homage to the Road Warrior is a roaringly fun celebration of 80s nostalgia.

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Deep in the misty wastelands of an alternative, dystopian 1997, a young orphan boy (Munro Chambers) scavengers for any scrap he can sell for clean water. But when his newest and only friend Apple (Laurence Leboeuf) is snatched by a warring party working for the land’s power-hungry overlord Zeus (Michael Ironside), he is set on a path of redemption. Suiting up in his newly-found battle armour as the Turbo Kid, he joins forces with a similarly-wronged drifter to exact bloody revenge and save his one hope for a bearable existence. 

Based on that introduction alone, it’s clear that Turbo Kid is every bit as fantastical as the films and shows its creators so obviously adore. It’s the product of a generation brought up on Thundercats and hair-metal. The kids who enacted bloody battles in front of late-night TV with their broken He-Man dolls. Cheap, ridiculous and fiendishly funny; it’s a film that confirms its own bonafide cult-status from the very instant the first synth-soaked note of its soundtrack is played.

More importantly however, Turbo Kid is a film with a very specific audience in mind. The violence is dished out in regular waves of cartoonish gore played entirely for laughs; there’s no room for questions of morality or righteousness here. This is a film that aims to do just one thing – entertain. And boy does it do so.

Its characters are lovingly designed with a flair for both the brutal and the imaginative, leaning on a nothing-budget to create an entire world of low-rent spectacle, and one that is entirely unique. The wasteland is a quarry, high-speed chases take place on push-bikes and Gladiator-style face-offs go down in a relatively small abandoned swimming pool. There’s almost no-end to the creativity on display here, all of it chiming together with the film’s delightfully sarcastic tone perfectly.

Occasionally, the film’s creators will take an uncharacteristically sensitive side-bar to try and deepen the plot, which often feels a little unnecessary and slows things down quite considerably, but for the most part, Turbo Kid is all go. It’s very easily at its best when it simply drops any sense of longing for something broader and just simply celebrates its original concept.

Although unlikely to win over a particularly large audience, those that do find themselves entranced by Turbo Kid’s gleeful nostalgia trip are sure to be impressed.

Turbo Kid (2015), directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell, is released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK by Lionsgate Home Entertainment on 5th October. Certificate 18. Full details of all of the films showing at Film4 FrightFest can be found here.  


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Former Film Editor, Film graduate and general supporter of all things moving-picture related. Accidentally obsessed with Taylor Swift. Long-time Ellen Page fanboy.

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