Hailing from Finland, Euthenizer is nice and nasty original piece of indie gold is written and directed by Teemu Nikki. I first found out about this film from Finnish filmmaker Artturi Olavi Rostén, who has directed probably one of the best indie shorts I’ve had the pleasure of watching in The Defiler, along with another filmmaker from Finland named Esa Jussila, whose work I also highly regard and respect in such movies as Goremageddon 1 and 2, The Defiler and Trans*. In some cases, Jussila and Rostén have collaborated on projects and have done effects on another cool short called Nightsatan And The Loops Of Doom directed by Christer Lindström.
However, Euthanizer is a different project. It falls into the category of a drama in my eyes. Debuting at The Toronto Film Festival, Euthanizer is a refreshing and honest yet bleak look at the lives of some very dark individuals. We are introduced to Veijo Haukka (Matti Onnismaa), a mechanic who also offers his services as a euthanizer for people who can’t afford the hefty vet bill of putting an animal down. You might get a bargain but Veijo has a way with words and will make you regret bringing the animal to him because of your selfish excuses.
Veijo is a dog whisperer. He has a love for animals and views what he does as a way to end the animals suffering. He does it for the pet and not the people, whom he loathes. Veijo is viewed as an oddball by the townsfolk, an arrogant figure who believes he is a God in a way when it comes to disposing of animals.
It’s business as usual until a little weasel by the name of Petri (Jari Virman) drops by with his dog, Mussu. Petri wants Mussu to be put down for no apparent reason except that the dog is a handful and un-trainable. Veijo takes Mussu out to be executed but can’t bring himself to do it, so instead he takes Mussu in himself. Problems arise when Petri finds out Mussu is not dead and takes it upon himself to confront Veijo. Petri visits Veijo with a gang of reprehensible Neo Nazis calling themselves The Sons Of Finland, a gang that Petri had humiliated and degraded himself endlessly to be a part of.
Veijo also meets Lotta (Hannamaija Nikander), the nurse who takes care of his sick father, Martti (Heikki Nousiainen). Lotta and Veijo form a bizarre relationship which borders around erotic asphyxiation in one of the most jaw dropping scenes of the film. Lotta is physically and mentally turned on by the work that Veijo does and soon Lotta accompanies Veijo when he takes a dog out to the woods to be shot and buried.
Euthanizer features some utterly truthful and memorable scenes. I think one of the most powerful scenes features Veijo’s father in the nursing home getting changed and cleaned up by Lotta. That scene alone, along with the expression on Martti’s face, speaks volumes about the loss of an individual’s dignity when they reach a point in their lives when they can no longer care for themselves. If the scene with Veijo’s father doesn’t get to you, then I’m sure the many scenes of dogs looking sad and pathetic before they are put down with a bullet will. Euthanizer makes many bold statements with its film titled subject matter alone.
This movie will no doubt offend a lot of animal lovers during the many scenes of felines and canines getting gassed and shot, but don’t worry. It clearly states that no animals were harmed during the filming. The subject matter is as dark and dank as you can get, but there is fortunately some lighthearted moments poked in there from time to time. Overall, be prepared for a look at a dark side of humanity in this film, from Petri’s actions trying to fit in with his group of Neo Nazi thugs to the local vet who cares more about lining her pockets and buying new cars than helping the animals she has as patients.
Euthanizer is a fresh and morbid look at a side of humanity that is prevalent in society but no one has chosen to pay attention to, showing the local dog catcher at the pound, the over crowded animal shelters filled with unwanted pets and those who do other people’s dirty work because they don’t have the guts to do it themselves. There are also many social topics in Euthenizer, such as yearning to fit in no matter what the circumstances, the need for love no matter how socially inept you are and life itself even when it deteriorates, it still goes on long after it is deemed desirable.