Euthanizer (aka Armomurhaaja) is a 2017 Finnish film from writer/director Teemu Nikki. This darkly comedic neo-noir film will hit select theaters in the U.S. in July and VOD August 7th. Uncork’d Entertainment gave us a special screening so read on to find out what we thought!
Outside of Aki Kaurismäki I am completely ignorant of the film scene in Finland but thankfully that changed in a big way over this weekend. Writer/Director Teemu Nikki has been honing his craft over the last decades with shorts, documentaries and TV series. Euthanizer is only his 3rd feature length film but you’d never be able to tell without the aid of IMDB.
Euthanizer is a masterful mix of dark comedy, romance, and a thrilling plot. Eschewing bountiful gore and jump scares Teemu has created a hauntingly real group of characters that would find a comfortable home in many psychological horror films.
The film stars Matti Onnismaa as Veijo, a man who is a mechanic but also runs a side job of animal euthanasia. However, in an almost Bergman-esque fashion it seems like Veijo is tapping into the flow of Karma and choosing to charge for his services based on how the animal is treated by it’s owner. He is almost an animal whisperer, a mix of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Doolittle, in that he can tell as much about the human bringing in the pet as he can about the animal itself. It’s simultaneously blunt, humorous and dark. I’ve not seen a film with quite this plot mix before and it’s very refreshing.
I wouldn’t say that it’s an easy watch for a general audience. Much like nature itself the film is brutal, and indifferent to the desires of the characters. There is a clashing of coldness and warmth in just about every actor on screen. It’s the comedy and tragedy of life and what we do with our decisions. I think if you are in the mood for this kind of film you will be delighted with the amount of things there are to unpack from it.
It’s a world with a slight bent away from our own but one whose philosophy hits all to close to home. These slight exaggerations make us as viewers think about our own situations that much closer. The characters feel real because none of them are blameless in what occurs, and they all have their own motivations. The revelations help us understand why the characters are acting like they do rather than pull the rug out from under us in a gotcha fashion. It’s evidence of a film maker that put a lot of thought into his film and I very much appreciate that care in craftsmanship.
The escalation of the plot is key. It ramps up where it feels like it should and I was honestly unaware of just how far the film would go. I needed to see where everything would continue to progress, which I think is a hallmark of a tightly scripted plot. It’s very comfortable in a dark setting, which makes the naturalness that the characters operate here that much more disturbing. This is a rewarding film in the sense that lots of little details, both visually and through plot, are there to be found. It has a consistent and distinct tone that fans of the genres it tackles are going to be drooling over.
The side actors did a great job too with their own characters being surprisingly fleshed out in a film just under 1 hour and 25 minutes. Euthanizer was not filmed with a large budget but it never feels cheap or that it was hindered by this. The film really is a throwback to the independent films of the 70’s that could tackle much more controversial issues with impunity.
Euthanizer Final Thoughts
I highly recommend checking Euthanizer out if you get the ability to see it. It’s a fresh concept with actors tailor made for their roles in a surprisingly well thought out script. If you are a fan of thrillers or neo-noir I think it has to be on your “must watch” list as it is very well done.
The VOD release is set for August 7. Until then you can have a listen to the eerie soundtrack.