Euthanizer

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Euthanizer
"As an anti-hero Veijo is up there, thanks in no small part to Onnismaa's performance."

"Do you euthanise animals here?" someone asks Veijo (Matti Onnismaa) near the start of Euthanizer. "Yes, those too," comes the reply that sets the offbeat tone for this debut feature from Teemu Nikki. The Finnish director views genre as something that is made to be tinkered with and his film has a similar darkly comic eco-warrior vibe to Agnieszka Holland and Kasia Adamik's Spoor, although he ultimately aims to leave a more bitter taste in the brain.

Veijo - who specialises in "repairs and end solutions" - turns out to have a complicated set-up in his car that allows him to help animals go gently into that good night with a spot of peaceful music and a lot of exhaust fumes. But despite his strong affinity with animals, his warmth towards his fellow humans is highly dependent on the attitude to the creatures in their care.

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Trouble then, lies ahead when his path crosses that of Petri (Jari Virman), a neo-Nazi wannabe who, despite being utterly pathetic, also has a dangerous edge, thanks to his association with a gang of thugs, even if they treat him as little more than a whipping boy. Petri, you will be unsurprised to learn, is not a model dog owner. As things between to escalate between Veijo and Petri, Nikki also adds an off-kilter romance to the mix as Lotta (Hannamaija Nikander) a nurse sympathetic to Viejo's cause and with her own predilections, takes a shine to him. She, in turn, is looking after his chronically sick father, whose relationship with his son is considerably more complex than might first appear.

As an anti-hero Veijo is up there, thanks in no small part to Onnismaa's performance, which brings a sorrowfulness to the character that inspires our sympathy even as his actions become increasingly deadly. Nikki's characters are drowning in toxic masculinity and he's at pains to point out that the horror of extremism can come in many forms, not just those that initially seem repugnant. There's a fine line being walked here, as those who enjoy the exploitation style violence and mordant humour, may be less willing to embrace the film's seriously bleak turn as it gets into the final third.

But then, karma, as they say, is a bitch.

Reviewed on: 04 Aug 2019
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Black comedy about a man who puts animals to sleep... and begins to do the same 'favour' for the owners.

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