Contemporary World Cinema

Euthanizer

Teemu Nikki

Euthanizer 01

The carefully balanced (albeit deranged) life of a freelance, black-market pet euthanizer begins to come apart at the seams in this loopy exploitation-movie throwback from Finland, which evokes the brazen psychological insights and aesthetic brio of such grungy genre classics as Monte Hellman’s Cockfighter and Larry Cohen’s God Told Me To.

Anyone raised on the exploitation movies of Roger Corman or Larry Cohen will respond immediately and affectionately to the polished grunge of The Euthanizer. Even the uninitiated will find themselves charmed by Teemu Nikki's disturbing and hilarious third feature.

Veijo, played by Finnish character actor Matti Onnismaa in his first starring role, runs a black-market operation euthanizing people's ailing — and sometimes just unwanted — pets. It's not a wealthy region, and the local veterinarian charges far more than most can afford. Each commission also comes with a brutal lecture, as Veijo spills over with Old Testament–style indignation about what shoddy and appalling people his patrons are.

From the outset, it's clear that our hero has dark secrets, but it's only when he meets a young nurse (who tends to his catatonic father) and a seedy garage mechanic (who's mixed up with a vicious gang of neo-Nazis) that Veijo's carefully balanced, albeit deranged, life begins to show cracks.

What crawls out when things really start to fall apart would, to paraphrase Bill Lee, make an ambulance attendant puke. Propelled by vibrant, B-movie enthusiasm, The Euthanizer offers the brazen psychological insights and aesthetic brio of classic exploitation movies like Cockfighter or God Told Me To.

STEVE GRAVESTOCK

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