A man’s gotta have a code, and in Teemu Nikki’s dark morality tale “Euthanizer,” the antihero, Veijo (Matti Onnismaa), lives by a very strict one. Though his side hustle is euthanizing animals on the cheap, he’s not in it for the money. Veijo strongly believes that actions should have consequences — karma, if you will — and bad things happen to people who hurt animals. He just hastens the process.
He strongly believes that “there’s a certain beauty to the end of pain,” and he’ll put something innocent out of its misery, if necessary. It may be shocking, but by the time he’s shooting a very cute corgi in the woods, you understand his motivation and even empathize with him.
Nikki places this staunch, almost Charles Bronson-type character in direct confrontation with a local white supremacist organization, the Soldiers of Finland, and it’s almost an experiment to see what happens when this kind of eye-for-an-eye conviction runs up against a hate group. The simmering feud culminates in an explosion of violence, as Veijo puts his beliefs into action.
It is a dark and often disturbing, boundary-pushing film, but the detached, almost ironic performance style provides a means to talking about taboo topics. Most surprisingly, despite the incredibly violent and nihilistic milieu, Nikki still finds room to insert a little love.
In Finnish with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Playing: Starts July 20, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills