Directed by: Jerrod Carmichael

Written by: Ari Katcher & Ryan Welch

Starring: Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Abbott, Tiffany Haddish, J. B. Smoove, Lavell Crawford

Rating: [4/5]

No matter what phase someone enters in their life, suicide is never the answer. It presents itself as a way to end a misery they want to cease forever, but the mess it leaves for those around left behind causes more residual damage. On the Count of Three follows two individuals navigating between the pros and the cons of ending their lives and what represents a dark subject matter results in a loving film between two friends trying to find meaning in life. 

Even with the offer of a promotion at his work, Val (Jerrod Carmichael) sees nothing worth living for and wants to kill himself. When he cannot do it himself, he breaks out his longtime best friend, Kevin (Christopher Abbott) from the psychiatric hospital, who also tried to commit suicide a few days prior. They decide to make a pact to make the best of the day but by the end, they will shoot each other in the head. 

Certainly a film that requires a trigger warning prior to presentation, On the Count of Three comes with quite a heavy log line. We’re essentially following two men who see no value in living and taking care of their final duties before they communally off themselves. Something incredibly dark to have as the plot of your film, but the careful balance of tone this film takes allows you to find the humor in the situation and most importantly, the humanity. Both of these men find themselves in a place where they longer see value in their lives. Val works for a mulch company and does not care for the mundanity life has to offer while Kevin spends his days arguing with psychiatrists at the hospital. This world supposedly has nothing for them, which then gets challenged as the film goes on. 

With the pact being they will take care of their final deeds and then shoot each other at the end of the day, it provides them the opportunity to literally live the day like it’s their last. This allows us some insight into who these men are, what they find joy in, and what they would do if they knew they would not be around the next day. It makes it funny that one of those items on the list consists of going to eat at a diner. I’m just saying if it were me, a diner is not the place where I would eat for my final meal but a distinct simplicity runs through Val and Kevin that continues to get fleshed out throughout the narrative and it allows for a richer exploration of who they are. 

The big final event they want to take care of before they off themselves consists of killing the child psychologist they each had when younger who molested them. They certainly attribute that impact to their negative perspective on life from this figure so they decide they must do this before they leave this world and the ineptitude in doing it gets quite funny on several occasions. It shows these two are not some criminal masterminds that can plan something like murdering someone if they can barely figure out how to catch the individual in the right place at the right time. This ineptitude runs through much of the film, because, after all, these are just two guys who see no value in life. 

As negative as their perspective may be, as the film continues to progress sprinkles of humanity come through in their interactions, specifically with Val when he hears some news that begins to change his mind about following through on the pact he made with his best friend. The push and pull of what they want to do become more difficult as the day progresses, even if they commit a few crimes they would escape the consequences if they did kill themselves. It adds to the beauty of living that serves as the main antagonist to these two men which makes it a tug-of-war on an emotional level and allows this to be such an enjoyable feature even in its dark moments. 

With the screenplay being sharp, the key to the success of this film comes from the two leading actors, Christopher Abbott, and Jerrod Carmichael. Abbott, in recent years, has proven to be an undeniable rising star taking on so many varying projects and knocking it out of the park in every single one. In portraying Kevin he delivers his lines with such disdain and self-righteousness that allows for some hilarious moments. His opening scene with the psychiatrist and in a gas station serves as his highlights in defining Kevin as a character and finding the humor of it all. Also, scream-singing Papa Roach’s “Last Resort” while Val looks at him confusingly made for a hilarious moment. Jerrod Carmichael not only portrays Val but directed the feature. His comedic chops certainly came to play but it surprised me how well he directed this feature. Definitely rough around the edges in spots, but he has a level of control in navigating the tricky tone this film utilizes to find the humor, the love, and the pain this story has to offer. For a directorial debut, he certainly makes a mark with this film. 

On the Count of Three will certainly not be for everyone with how dark it can get, but it allows for a larger discussion about what it looks like to feel life has nothing left to offer someone. This film presents counterarguments to their line of thinking and it comes down to if they will still carry out their plot as they reach the end of the day. Equally hilarious as it is disturbing, this feature is certainly something to behold.

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