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Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - EUTHANIZER

EUTHANIZER film review
A man who specialises in humanely ending the lives of pets comes up against a gang of white supremacists.

Review by Michael Vaughn

EUTHANIZER film poster

Directed by: Teemu Kikki

Written by: Teemu Kikki

Starring: Matti Onnismaa, Jari Virman, Hannamaija Nikander, Alina Tomnikov

An odd man named Venijo (Matti Onnismaa) has a rather strange side job of euthanizing animals. He doesn’t do this for any kind of sick thrills - in fact his love for all things furry leads to his creed that no animal should suffer. His life gets turned upside down when he meets a nurse and encounters a local white supremacist group. Now Venjio must defend his ideals at all costs.

Euthanizer is, for the most part, a character study. That means you live or die automatically on the lead's acting, and thankfully, he is up to the task. Onnismaa does a fine job playing the lead character and he wisely retains a subtle approach. Outwardly, Veijo is a cold antisocial grump; however, Onnismaa and director Teemu Kikki bring out a warmth and depth to the character that is lurking just beneath the surface. Indeed, most of the performances are very well done.

EUTHANIZER film review

I respect that Euthanizer doesn’t go out of its way to be weird or shocking, yet without trying too hard, it is regardless, thanks to moments like Venjio's girlfriend requesting to be choked during sex or Venjio making a woman crawl on all fours after she hit an animal, forcing her moments later to apologise to the corpse. Odd as they may be, these scenes are not remotely important to the story, but damned if they aren’t at least interesting.

Characters are also fleshed out more than I was expecting, though I think this could have been improved greatly. My biggest issue is the film has serious pacing problems and at a scant 80ish minute runtime, drags its narrative to a grinding halt with disjointed subplots. This in turn hurts the story and makes it feel like its struggling to find its core.

EUTHANIZER film review

Also, while I respect when filmmakers aim for a message, this one feels heavy handed and our hero's code feels more like preaching. One moment of palm to face is when Venjio even mentions 'Karma', which really drives the point home without allowing the audience to infer that themselves. It's one of my pet peeves when filmmakers feel the need to spoon feed everything to the viewer.

The ending, without spoiling anything, also feels like a letdown and seems to contradict the film's overall message of Karma and balance for bad deeds done.

EUTHANIZER film review

Despite such issues, I think Teemu could make a good, even great film given better material from somebody besides himself. In fact, I would love to see what he could do with the horror genre. Euthanizer has an eerie feeling about it and I think that he would thrive adding that to the genre.

Overall, this film takes some concepts and ideas and strings them along, yet never really tackles them meaningfully and only comes off forced and heavy handed. It also doesn’t do itself any favours when needless padding stops the story dead in its tracks. I actually feel like this could have been a much better short film instead of a feature length one.

Euthanizer is on VOD August 7th.

Michael Vaughn is a rabid horror and cult fan who turned that love into a career. He is a writer, blogger and film historian and now author of 'The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema' which Shock Wave Podcastnamed their pick of the month, and Chris Alexander of Fangoria called “recommended reading.”

His other credits include Scream Magazine, Fangoria and websites like Films in Review and Bloody Flicks(UK). Please follow his Twitter @StrangeCinema65 and Instagram @castle_anger.