Sometimes you have misgivings about a movie before you see it, sometimes those misgivings are unjustified and you end up watching a great film. Other times your instincts are quite right and you spend your time watching something you really wish you had avoided. Teemu Nikki’s EUTHANIZER, which ran as part of this year’s Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival is one I wish I’d heeded my instincts about.
Veijo (Matti Onnismaa) is a loner and misanthrope who runs a combination garage and euthanization service for unwanted pets. He kills animals, is an asshole to the people who patronize his services, verbally and occasionally physically degrading them, and occasionally driving around looking for roadkill to bury and visiting/tormenting his bedridden father. He eventually lets two beings into his life, an unwanted dog brought to him by a local Neo-Nazi Petri (Jari Virman) and Lotta (Hannamaija Nikander) the nurse who cares for his father and who gets turned on by watching him put down animals among other things. When Petri learns under particularly humiliating circumstances that the dog is still alive the plot switches into a tale of more violent psychosis.
As you can tell this is a bleak and ugly story about nasty people doing nasty things to other unlikable people. And that would be fine, there are many good and great films with that basic setup, but EUTHANIZER can’t even maintain its own logic. Alleged animal lover Veijo falls for Lotta who very obviously gets turned on watching animals die for example.
Which brings up the film’s animal body count. The film is way too invested in scenes of dead and dying animals, long-held shots of terrified felines peering out of cages as they’re enveloped in exhaust fumes, dogs looking up expecting a treat but instead getting a bullet. And by the film’s end, much, much worse. I admit I’m an animal person, (three cats and a dog), so maybe this hit me harder than it will other people but I found it genuinely repellent.
And feel free to totally disregard the poster which makes it look like an action film. Payback and revenge may be at the heart of this film but its bursts of action are few and far between. EUTHANIZER is a miserable, nasty bundle of depression that tries to be meaningful and ironic but fails badly.