(director: Caitlin Cronenberg; screenwriter: Michael Sparaga; cinematographer: Douglas Koch; editor: Orlee Buium; music: Todor Kobakov; cast: Jay Baruchel (Jared  York), Emily Hampshire (Rachel York), Peter Gallagher (Charles York), Enrico Calontoni (Bob), Sebastian Chacon (Noah York), Alanna Bale (Ashley York), Sirena Gulamgaus (Mia York), Uni Park (Dawn Kim), Martin Roach (Tony), Blessing Adedijo (Grace); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Michael Sparaga; IFC Films; 2024-Canada)

Heavy-handed thriller.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

In her directorial debut Toronto born filmmaker Caitlin Cronenberg (daughter of the great horror pic auteur David Cronenberg) directs and Michael Sparaga scripts this heavy-handed thriller, lacking much of a satirical bite and emotional feelings for the mostly unlikable characters living in a wealthy Ontario neighborhood. The B-film spends too much time with exposition and never fleshes out its characters.

It’s set in the near future as a dystopian thriller that asks the ethical question what does it mean to be good.

After a widespread ecological collapse, every country on earth has shut its borders and has committed to reducing its population within one year through euthanizing its population (of seniors, the terminally ill, the impoverished, immigrants and prisoners) down to 20%.  Why it does so has me scratching my head, since there are better options on how to handle the environmental crisis.

In Canada, the government will provide substantial aid to families that enlist in its elimination program, also offering their families higher education or free homes.

We follow the Canadian York family and its wealthy retired newscaster patriarch Charles (Peter Gallagher) and his Japanese celebrity chef wife Dawn (Uni Park), a vic of Asian racism whose restaurant was closed by bigots. The couple invite their family over for a Last Supper to tell them they volunteered for the enlistment program and immediately hear the objections from their dysfunctional family of four: the oily right-wing government apologist, the anthropologist (Jay Baruchel); the cold fish crooked pharmaceutical company exec Rachel (Emily Hampshire); the adopted recovering addict and former concert pianist Noah (Sebastian Chacon); and the aspiring stage actress Ashley (Alanna Bale).

Things take a turn when Dawn changes her mind seeing the euthanasia van arrive with the pushy task leader nerd Bob (Enrico Calontoni), driving one of the Department of Citizen Strategy (D.O.C.S.) vans, who insists that two bodies from the family be taken to the morgue, and has the lethal injections ready. But Dawn has vanished.

What it could have used was a stronger screenplay, and a better political satire story. It was static enough that it could have been mistaken for a stage play.


REVIEWED ON 4/29/2024  GRADE: C+