Turbo Kid (2015) [Fantasia Film Festival]



In a very ‘80s post-apocalyptic world, The Kid is a scavenger surviving on his own gathering goods while out on his BMX and exchanging the finds at the local watering hole. One day, as he’s gone on another of his rides, he meets Apple who is mourning the recent loss of her friend and desperately needs a new one. Apple imprints on The Kid like a baby duck, following him around and insisting on them becoming best of friends. Her insistence and bubbliness gets The Kid to accept her friendship and constant presence in this lonely world. He shows her some of what he knows, including his favorite comic book and his ViewMaster. As they become closer, disaster strikes and Apple is kidnapped by Zeus’ men to be brought to the representation of evil that is Zeus. The Kid must find his inner hero and save his best friend from the clutches of evil and maybe save the world in the process.

Turbo Kid came from a team of writers/directors composed of Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell, and Francois Simard and was developed from a short film called T is for Turbo. The team, who has been making shorts together for years, makes its feature film debut here and they are a talent to watch for. The film is well written and directed and it’s obvious the three filmmakers work well together as it doesn’t feel like three different directions put together as it is a cohesive story and movie.

The script and direction are supported by a stellar cast composed of leads Munro Chambers as The Kid, Laurence Leboeuf as Apple, and Michael Ironside as Zeus. All three are experienced actors and tackle their parts with gusto. Even though the film is a complete ‘80s throwback none of them, or of the supporting cast for that matter, went for schlocky and all the performances add to the story, as opposed to other movies in the same vein in which actors were hamming it up. These performances add to the story and make The Kid and Apple characters one can care about and Zeus the penultimate 80’s-style bad guy. Out of the cast, Laurence Leboeuf stands out as Apple, the character so badly wanting to be the best friend The Kid needs. When her “special” side is revealed, it does not deter from her being lovable and cared for. She is like a cross between Rainbow Brite and JEM on steroids and a big part of this comes from the performance by Leboeuf.

In this film, the music is like an extra character; it has its own presence and is an extra layer of goodness. The score by Quebec synthwave group Le Matos is effective, nostalgic, and feels very appropriate. As one can grow tired of all the synthwave scores of the last few years, this one is fitting and fun as it feels organic to the story and look of the movie. The opening bit of music pulls you into the movie and doesn’t let go until you are fully invested. If you are not familiar with Le Matos, you should check them out.

As an ‘80s homage film, the effects could have been cheesy and dated but they are modern and well done. For the gorehounds out there, Turbo Kid delivers while not falling in the queasy puke inducing category so it should not deter non gore fans. Most of the gore here is rewarding and, at times, funny. Also needing a mention is the laser weapon The Kid wields which is quite of the era but the lasers shot by it look very good. Other effects are scattered through the movie and none of them feel out of place as seen in other era emulating movies.

All of these aspects put together show how to do a proper ‘80s inspired, nostalgia-filled film without going so overboard that it feels exaggerated and overstays its welcome. Other movies coming out in recent years and months could have learned from this one. Turbo Kid feels right, looks right, and sounds right, making it boatloads of fun and very entertaining. The kind of movie that makes you want more when it ends.