09th Aug2018

‘Euthanizer’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Hannamaija Nikander, Jari Virman, Matti Onnismaa, Heikki Nousiainen, Pihla Penttinen, Jouko Puolanto, Santtu Karvonen, Alina Tomnikov, Ilari Johansson, Rami Rusinen, Olli Rahkonen | Written and Directed by Teemu Nikki

Euthanizer-Key-Art

Although it’s not the biggest sub genre, Finnish horror has produced a few good movies. Lake Bodom had some success outside of it’s home country, Dark Floors (the Lordi film) was surprisingly fun) and Rare Exports is a movie I watch and enjoy every Christmas. So if Euthanizer turned out decent, it was in good company. It turns out much more than decent and Euthanizer has a lot to like about it. So lets begin with the performances because there’s not a bad performance from any member of the cast. But the three leads will will get most the praise and justifiably so…

Hannamaija Nikander plays the lead female Lotta. Definitely an odd character, Lotta enjoys the macbre side of life, and although she is quiet on words, Nikander uses expressions and reactions to great effect and she’s perfectly cast. It’s a massive surprise that she only has five credits to her IMDb name and I think she’ll go on to bigger things.

If it wasn’t for one other blistering performance, Jari Virman as Petri would be the star of the film. He is excellent as Petri who is a bit lost in life and not really sure where to turn. He just wants to be part of something and the ‘Soldiers of Finland’, a gang, are who he chooses to be a part of, at whatever consequence. Despite his actions he’s a character you do actually feel a little bit sorry for.

Experienced actor Matti Onnismaa plays the lead role, Veijo. And he puts in a performance of a lifetime. He is exceptional. Veijo is a complicated character and you will follow his journey in the film like a rollercoaster. I did a complete U-Turn on if I liked the character or not and then changed my mind again! Like Lotta, he’s a very strange character but you soon warm to him, only for him to go a bit too crazy too like. But by the time the end credits role, I wasn’t sure either way. But Onnismaa does everything expertly, he makes you totally believe him as this character.

Euthanizer isn’t a jump out of your sit film, or a serial killer search or a ghost or any other genre film familiar stories. This is similar to that ‘new breed’ of unsettling horror. It’s sometimes extremely tense, generally very uncomfortable viewing – the subject matter of animals being hurt or killed will put many people off before even watching it – and there’s a sense of dread from very early on. This dread is produced many times from the excellent musical score. Like the movie itself it’s a strange mix of musical styles but everything works. From harsh sounding, to classical pieces to pop rock to a trendy synth score. It’s all here and it all works.

Euthanizer builds to its shocking ending beautifully. It is continually a hard watch but for the first three quarters or so of the movie, most things it does this without actually showing you too much. It might be because of budget restraints but if not, it’s a good decision because for that final fifteen minutes, when the viewer sees certain incidents, they do feel as horrific as they should.

Out of nowhere, Euthanizer has becomeone of my favourite movies of the year. Shot beautifully, full of great performances and distressing scenes that even hardened genre fans will find hard to stomach. This movie isn’t for everyone but those who do see it, will be glad they did.

**** 4/5

Euthanizer is available on VOD across the US now.

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