Val (Jerrod Carmichael) and Kevin (Christopher Abbott) are best friends. In the present day, things for Val and Kevin could certainly be better. Val is at a point in life where he wants everything to end. He quits his successful job, breaks up with his girlfriend, and even unsuccessfully attempts suicide. And then there’s Kevin. Kevin is currently in a local hospital because he has also attempted suicide and is dealing with various mental health-related issues. Doctors and hospitals have been a big part of Kevin’s world for most of his life, and no professional has ever been successful in understanding or helping him fully.
When Val starts thinking that not waking up tomorrow brings him comfort, he decides to help Kevin escape from the hospital. Val proposes that the two should shoot one another on the count of three while standing in an alleyway. However, something happens, and the two don’t go through with it. Instead, they both agree to live one more day and do whatever they want before they die. Val and Kevin will spend this day together reflecting on their past, seeking revenge, or perhaps making amends with whoever wronged them. When more day passes, will Val and Kevin pull the trigger on each other and end their lives with a bang?
As you might expect, On the Count of Three is best described as a drama film that focuses heavily on the theme of suicide while squeezing in the odd moment of dark comedy. The film introduces its story well, and we understand that both leading men are basically at the end of their limits with life, past hurts, and challenges. Right away, I loved the chemistry and friendship between the characters of Val and Kevin. The actors here are highly convincing in their roles, and audiences will find it easy to believe these characters have been good mates for a lengthy period. The dialogue among them is also quite strong and, again, just downright believable.
Pacing is another pleasing aspect of the film. Many events on-screen surprise and shock, and there are tense moments with unpredictable outcomes, including the finale. While we gain a quick understanding that both Val and Kevin want to end their lives over the next twenty-four hours, the film takes us on a journey that gives us more insight into their past and understanding of some of their reasoning behind the choice to end it all.
It should be noted that not only is Jerrod Carmichael playing Val, but he’s also the film’s Director. His official, directional debut is quite impressive, and he has delivered a strong, on-screen friendship and tackled a challenging and hard-hitting topic. Moments of conflict and tension are captured wonderfully. Viewers may have opinions on certain character choices or thought processes, but the reality is that its themes are presented strongly, and its drama is powerful. While there is a surprising and touching finale, I wished there was a little more detail given in the finale and certain areas of the story instead of expecting viewers to make up their own opinions.
Overall, I am impressed by this feature, especially as an official, directional debut from Jerrod Carmichael, who also plays one of the leads. Successfully delivering a highly convincing friendship with snappy and fun dialogue along the way, the film brings a story that feels unpredictable and carries truly touching, shocking moments. Focusing on suicide themes, a hard-hitting subject, the combination of dark comedy will impact multiple viewers. On the Count of Three (2021) is Available in Australian Cinemas from September 29th.