Matti Onnismaa and Hannamaija Nikander in "Euthanizer" (2017)

Matti Onnismaa and Hannamaija Nikander in Euthanizer (2017)

Director-screenwriter Teemu Nikki describes his feature film, Euthanizer as the “Dirty Harry of animals”. The film revolves around the rights, suffering, and death of animals.  The story follows a psychotic, grumpy and antisocial animal-loving pet euthanizer, Veijo Haukka (Matti Onnismaa) who also delivers justice to careless pet owners. He strongly believes that actions should have consequences and bad things happen to people who hurt animals. “We tend to discuss a lot of serious subjects, things that bother us. Euthanasia and animal rights are one of them. That’s how we got an idea for this movie,” tells producer Jani Pösö who owns the Helsinki based production company It's Alive Films with Teemu Nikki. Nikki also wanted to homage the movies of his childhood – late 70s and early 80s genre films, like Dirty Harry

The story about a 50-year-old mechanic, who is merciful to animals but ruthless to humans, is dark but has some humor in it. “In the beginning, we weren’t doing a comedy, but dark themes needed some humor, otherwise the film would have ended up being too similar to generic vigilante stories. Comedy also entertains the audience at the darkest moments,” Pösö explains.Haukka is euthanizing old, ill or rejected pets. Conflict arises when Petri Kettu (Jari Virman), who tries to get accepted by a nationalist gang – the Soldiers of Finland – pays Haukka to kill his healthy dog. Haukka takes the money and adopts the black mutt.  Later, Kettu sees the dog and gets furious. He will not be happy until the dog is dead. The conflict escalates as the violent supremacist gang seeks bloody revenge and things get ugly. In the end, the only innocent is the dog.

Even though Euthanizer is partly inspired by American genre films, the humor of the film is pretty Finnish. “It is very dark and sometimes even disturbing – just like we Finns sometimes are,” suggests Pösö. Pösö said, “The moral on the story is that if you always stick to your principles, you might end up really bad and hurt people.”The low-budget Finnish film was awarded Best Screenplay at the Tokyo Film Festival in 2017 and it won Best Screenplay at the Jussi Awards, the Finnish film industry event that recognizes the past year's excellence in Finnish filmmaking.