By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

I kicked off my 2014 Austin Film Festival not with a screening, but with an online screener link.  Occasionally, I have the opportunity to review festival films outside of the actual festival and I chose to watch this screener a few days prior to the festival beginning.  I am so glad that I did because this is a movie I might have ignored because of the stiff competition playing against it.  I know screeners don’t provide the same experience as watching a film theatrically, but my computer screen in a dark bedroom did just fine.  Once I started watching The Suicide Theory, I was immediately drawn into this well written, directed and acted movie and little else mattered for the next 98 minutes.

Written by Michael J. Kospiah and directed by Dru Brown, this Australian export tells the strange tale of Percival (Leon Cain) and his inability to commit suicide.  It isn’t that he cannot make himself go through the act of committing suicide. Percival just happens to have the worst “luck” in that every attempt to off himself has failed. Whether it involves a gunshot, jumping off a building, or some other form of suicide, Percival always ends up in the hospital and miraculously survives another day.  Percival seeks out the help of professional hit man, Steven Ray (Steve Mouzakis), a man usually happy to kill anyone for the right price.  When Steven’s attempts to kill him fail as well, he begins to believe that Percival may be cursed to live until he fulfills some destiny.  Bewildered by this possibility, Steven tries to learn as much as he can about his client and his peculiar predicament.

Now that I have actually seen a handful of films at the festival, I can honestly say that so far, this has been my favorite festival selection.  Kospiah has written a truly incredible story and screenplay that has a wonderful mixture of gallows humor, drama, and heartbreak.  Director Dru Brown does some fantastic directing creating this bizarre, almost dreamlike fantasy world with rich and intriguing characters.  I only have one issue with the film in that it does stretch the bounds of credibility in that the police would have been eventually called to investigate why Percival would suffer so many, often violent, near death incidents.  Still, because the story and characters are otherwise well-written, I got past this problem and fell in love with this movie.  If attending the Austin Film Festival, I must highly recommend seeing it.


UPDATE: The Suicide Theory is getting a limited release in some U.S. theaters and will be available through Video on Demand July 10, 2015.

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