There is no better source material than the sometimes incomprehensible actions of people in this world. For example, the Soviet Union’s most prolific serial killer, Andrei Chikatilo. This man murdered over fifty-two people from 1978 to 1990. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 1992. He was executed in 1994. For more than a decade law enforcement struggled with finding any leads to his arrest. Here we find the inspiration for Lado Kvataniya’s The Execution. Which premiered this week at Fantastic Fest.
The Execution is a noir crime-thriller that is inspired by the horrific case of Chikatilo. In this debut feature from Kvataniya we will see the effects a case like that can have on a man. Specifically, the investigator that has dedicated so much time and effort to it. To make matters worse, we begin the film learning that our protagonist, Senior Investigator Issa, played by Nikoloz Tavadze, has caught the wrong man.
Now that the case has been reopened, so have many of the wounds left behind from the first manhunt. The Execution takes us on a thrilling journey that weaves together the events from the past and events in the present. As we try to deduce who the real killer is we see the growing desperation of the Investigator. Then when the time is appropriate we learn elements of what trigger these anxious emotions. Some of which are shocking and surprising.
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This nonlinear style of storytelling is dangerous for a crime-thriller. It has the potential of dragging the film and disconnecting audiences from the story. This is not the case for The Execution. Every moment showcased in the film serves as an intricate part of untangling the story that is presented to us. With every untangled strand, audiences will find themselves more and more invested and eager to also learn the fate of the killer and the investigator. It was a very smart decision for the story to be structured this way.
The film has great practical effects that show the gruesome reality that Issa is facing. There are killings and mutilations that will make many people squirm. What is also great about these moments is that they serve as an important element to the story. Visually the film uses lighting and colors very well. Using grey tones for the present scenes and a little more color for what we see back in the 80s. As the emotional state of Issa becomes more negative the tone and lighting change as well.
There are fantastic character interactions between Issa and two criminals that give great exposition on the weight that the job has on Issa. Then it’s further explored with his interactions with Ivan, played by Evgeniy Tkachuk who is another inspector. As the case progresses their relationship starts to suffer. Then that trickles down to his home life, which like in most stories suffers the most.
All these elements come together very well in The Execution. It’s a film that I would expect from a seasoned feature filmmaker, not someone making his feature debut. I feel that it can serve as a blueprint for future crime thrillers. I don’t talk much about the plot because it’s something that I think audiences should enjoy on their own. The rollercoaster of twists and turns is an entertaining ride that will leave you satisfied at the end, especially if you enjoy the genre. I am excited to see future films by Kvataniya.
Overall Grade: A
The Execution premiered this week at Fantastic Fest 2021.