Festivals Reviews TV & Film

AFF 2014: Dru Brown’s “The Suicide Theory”: a Killer Drama

Steve Mouzakis stars as hit man Steven Ray in Dru Brown's "The Suicide Theory," where he is hired by Leon Cain's Percival to get creative and kill him. Image courtesy of facebook.com/TheSuicideTheoryFilm.
Steve Mouzakis stars as hit man Steven Ray in Dru Brown’s “The Suicide Theory,” where he is hired by Leon Cain’s Percival to get creative and kill him. Image courtesy of facebook.com/TheSuicideTheoryFilm.

There are stories that stick with you–stories that are more than just stories. The psychological drama “The Suicide Theory” by Australian director and writer Dru Brown and Michael J. Kospiah stays with you long after its chilling end.

“The Suicide Theory” tells the story of hit man, Steven Ray (played by Steve Mouzakis), whose behavior is changed for the worse after the tragic death of his wife in a hit-and-run accident. In him, screenwriter Michael J. Kospiah has created a flawed hero: a man who is likable in his dysfunction. As the audience watches him struggle, we begin to not only root for his success, but also for his sanity.

By Emily Gibson

Steven’s life is changed when Percival (played by Leon Cain) falls–literally–into his path. Percival, who was trying to commit suicide by jumping off a building when he landed on Steven’s cab, has decided he is cursed to keep surviving after a series of failed suicide attempts. Desperate to die, he hires Steven to finish the job.

He won’t die, he says, as long as he wants to. For it to work, Steven has to kill him when he doesn’t want to die and when he doesn’t expect it.

In each other, the two men find not only an unlikely friend, but also a foil. Percival is longing for death; Steven is a professional killer. While Steven copes with the loss of his wife by killing others, Percival is dealing with the loss of his lover by trying to kill himself.

Mouzakis breathes an air of cool uncertainty into Kospiah’s dynamic hit man and Cain portrays Percival with a desperate naivety that highlights the differences between the two men.

However, it’s the similarities in Steven and Percival that add a layer of complexity to each of their characters. Each mourning the loss of their loved one, each unable to move on, they ask each other what they are most afraid of.

It’s that question that stays with the viewer. As each man struggles with his greatest fear, we begin to wonder what is holding us back. As the story unfolds and the bond between these two men is revealed to not be coincidence but a work of fate, we find ourselves questioning the world around us.

The lives of Steven and Percival are outwardly different but inherently the same. As they tangle around each other, the story takes a series of dramatic and unexpected turns that leave the viewer not only surprised but conflicted about morality, humanity, and the concept of fate.

Australian director Dru Brown's "The Suicide Theory" is one of the films to screen for tonight, Austin Film Festival's opening night. The psychological drama stars Steve Mouzakis as Steven Ray and Leon Cain as Percival. Image courtesy of facebook.com/TheSuicideTheoryFilm.
Australian director Dru Brown’s “The Suicide Theory” is one of the films to screen for tonight, Austin Film Festival’s opening night. The psychological drama stars Steve Mouzakis as Steven Ray and Leon Cain as Percival. Image courtesy of facebook.com/TheSuicideTheoryFilm.

Under Dru Brown’s direction, “The Suicide Theory” skillfully combines the violent and, perhaps, grotesque aspects of both Steven’s profession as a hit man and Percival’s suicide attempts with the emotional trauma each man is facing not only in mourning but also with the direction of his own life.

Though the film is shocking in its violence and dark subject matter, the friendship between Steven and Percival and the persistent questions about fate and fear are what make it gripping. Brown has approached theses subjects with a seriousness that makes the viewer question not only what is happening in the film, but in their own reality.

“The Suicide Theory” is shrouded in mystery. Because we don’t know why Steven chooses his actions the way he does or why Percival is so persistent about his demise, the film keeps us on the edge of our seat until its shocking end. And, perhaps, it’s the necessarily unfulfilling—yet inevitable—last scene that makes the movie’s impact stronger.

Well-acted, shot, and edited, “The Suicide Theory” is not to be missed.

Remember, you’re so lucky to be alive. And you’re lucky to be alive to watch “The Suicide Theory.”

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