Embracing the essence of the classic “Twilight Zone” episodes, “The Suicide Theory” tells the story of an unusual relationship. A quiet, unassuming Percival (Leon Cain) reaches out to hitman Steven Ray (Steve Mouzakis) with a strange request: he wants Ray to kill him, but only when he doesn’t want to die.
Percival believes he is under a curse that prevents him from dying. His previous attempts at suicide land him in the hospital with ruptured organs and broken limbs. Percival also thinks that he and Ray were destined to meet.
“I think that’s the way Percival sees it. When you really study it, I guess, he believed there’s a real, tangible thing we call fate. He’s pretty convinced this is all meant to be,” director Dru Brown said when reached by phone for an interview.
The ultimate irony
Burdened with a secret pain, Percival tries to kill himself without success. He pays Steven Ray to attack him at those moments when he wants to live. “That’s the ultimate irony of the film: to get what you want, you have to die,” Brown explained.
One has to feel sorry for Leon Cain, though, the actor playing Percival. Throughout the film, Cain wears bandages and wrappings to show the effects of the failed suicide attempts. “It was terrible; it was a couple of hours every day. We were shooting in the summer in Brisbane, Australia,” Brown said about Cain’s makeup experience.
Steve Mouzakis turns in multi-layered performance as Percival’s would-be killer and eventual friend. Always the hard-boiled killer, Steven Ray is still capable of incredible love and also appreciates opera. Ray can be a scruffy, back-alley thug one moment and then go home to put on his tuxedo.
“Steve is neither of those guys. He’s the nicest, sweetest, kindest, up-for-a-laugh kind of bloke. He’s an incredible actor. I was blown away on the first day. He transforms; he’s not playing himself,” the director explained.
Brown also points out the misdirection in the script and story: “[Michael Kospiach has] done a really good job of sort of setting you up to think one thing, and obviously hang it off in the air. But hang it off in a way that’s really inventive and creative. It’s not just the sort of simple trope you may see in other films.”
After some careful thought, Percival’s theories about suicide and death don’t seem all that far-fetched.
“That’s what I loved about it: it was never really all-the-way fantasy. It was strange enough for you to be able to suspend disbelief for a minute and go with it. I love that stuff that walks that fine line.” Brown said.