Invitation to a Suicide (2004)

Rating: B-

Dir: Loren Marsh
Star: Pablo Schreiber, Katherine Moennig, Joe Urla, David Margulies

Kaz Malek (Schreiber) will do anything to get out of his Polish-American neighbourhood, even trying to steal from local Russian gangster Ferfichkin (Urla). The inevitable happens: he gets caught, and has 24 hours to come up with $10,000, or his Dad (Margulies) will be killed. Kaz comes up with a novel idea to save his father: he’ll hang himself and sell tickets. Ferfichkin, who has a profitable snuff-movie sideline, agrees – after some convincing our hero is serious about the idea. Now, all Kaz need do is convince enough people to pony up the cash to see him die; or come up with an alternative plan that will allow both him and his father to survive.

This black comedy is at its best when allowing the absurdity of the situation to flow freely, to its natural conclusion – such as the snuff-film connoisseur cops, who insist on Kaz’s death being filmed in 35mm. While the storyline is generally fine, the humour does tend to stand or fall on the performances more than the script, and they’re a mixed bunch. Of all the actors, Urla seems to have the best handle on this, with his gangster a memorably off-the-wall character, full of surprises. In contrast, Moennig, playing the somewhat indifferent object of Kaz’s affection, is bland, as interesting to watch as cream-cheese, and adds little or nothing to the film. Schreiber falls somewhere in the middle: at times, you’ll find yourself hoping he has to kill himself, but at others, he is surprisingly sympathetic. Overall, there’s enough here to provoke a general smirk, occasional sniggers, and (in my case, at least) one good, old-fashioned honk. That’ll do.