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Love Comes to the Executioner, starring Jonathan Tucker, Jeremy Renner, Ginnifer Goodwin -- A Movie Review

Updated on April 20, 2014

Brilliant dark humor, super-quirky characters -- but Love Comes to the Executioner is not for everybody

4 stars for Love Comes to the Executioner movie

Ready for some really dark humor?

Love Comes To The Executioner
Love Comes To The Executioner

The reviewed movie. If you love morbid comedies, read the review first to make sure this is the type you like, and definitely add it to your personal collection.


Jonathan Tucker plays Heck Prigusivac, a recent graduate from college majoring in classical languages. After a brief stop-off at home in Montana, Heck intends to head to Seattle to start a career as a Latin teacher. However, he finds his mother (Christine Ebersol) dying of liver disease, and she keeps forgetting that alcohol interacts with her medication. She needs an in-home caretaker, and Heck will have to go to work to provide her a nurse. He’s the only one left, since his brother is currently on death row, and his father was already executed for murder. What is an aspiring Latin teacher to do in a backwater Montana town?

Family must come first, so he begins the job hunt. Sadly, everyone in town knows the family reputation, and they really don’t want to chance it with the only male of the bunch that hasn’t been convicted of multiple homicide. In desperation, Heck heads for the prison – and lands himself a job. While he was hired as a closer, the warden assures him that he can also teach Latin to the inmates on the side. It isn’t until his brother, Chick (Jeremy Renner, well-known for his title role in Dahmer, from 2001) informs him that a closer isn’t the person that locks up at night that his new duties really hit home – Heck has been hired as an executioner, and Chick is certain that this throwback in the gene pool doesn’t have what it takes to be a killer.

Heck’s new career gets off to a bumpy start, but presently he settles in – and discovers how enjoyable and fulfilling his job can be. While he may be the only executioner who listens to “Walking on Sunshine” while he administers the injection, he still gets the job done, keeps everything clean, and still has time to fit in Latin classes before the inmates die. To complicate things, he gets involved with Dori (Ginnifer Goodwin), the only woman on death row and his brother’s ex-girlfriend. Now it’s up to Heck to try to cook up a plan that can save his new love from justice for her husband’s gruesome murder.

Don't take my word for it, check out the trailer of Love Comes to the Executioner

My Opinion of the Movie

In the past, I have been known to rate comedies of all types with a nausea factor. Anyone who has read many of my comedy reviews may begin to wonder if I even like them at all. Let’s set the record straight in this regard – slapsticks make me nauseous, but this is the kind of comedy that I can truly enjoy. I wouldn’t exactly call this a dark comedy, though I have been known to enjoy those from time to time. Comedic elements in dark comedies are often veiled, and require a certain morbid twist of thought in order to see the humor. Love Comes to the Executioner, on the other hand, qualifies as a “morbid comedy” far more than a “dark comedy.” Its humor is right up-front for all to see, and to the right sort of very odd person it’s absolutely hilarious. You do have to be able to laugh at some of the more macabre aspects of life in order to really enjoy the movie.

Generally the first major fault in any type of comedy is usually the dialog. I’m pleased to announce that even I could not complain about the dialog in this particular movie. In the beginning, I really didn’t know what to expect – some of the banter was entertaining, but overall it struck me as something that would end up being a lame movie. Be patient – it’s coming.

The story line takes a couple of scenes to take off, but once it does, it just keeps on going. We’re looking at the black sheep of the family, the utter disgrace – who is the only one to go to college and not murder anyone (am I the only one who wonders how he became a Latin major?). Now he faces killing his own brother, and nothing could give him more pleasure as years of sibling rivalry and resentment come boiling to the surface. In some respects, the characters are a bit flat. However, this movie does give you a good look into their pasts, and their very colorful personalities.

All that said – keep the kids away, this is a movie for adults to enjoy only. Aside from the obvious backdrop of murder and death row executions, there are a few other scenes that you may not want your toddlers watching – just little things like foul language, sex through prison bars, excessive drinking, and so on. Seriously, how clean can a movie really be when it’s set in prison, and one of the main characters murdered an entire Latin camp after his brother borrowed his car without permission?

Acting usually tends to take a backseat in the world of comedy, but not here – it’s definitely top-notch, though the style may not be to everyone’s tastes. The choice of Ginnifer Goodwin for the role of Dori caused a bit of a giggle for me. She did scaringly well in the part, but previously the only role I’d ever seen her in was as the demure Connie in Mona Lisa Smile. Suffice to say, Dori was light years away from that. The quirky, yet talented Christine Ebersol and warden Michael Fairman round out the cast.

This is definitely not a movie that I would recommend to everyone. I have no doubt that some people would see it as sick and twisted, while others may see it as completely tedious and dull, and neither can understand how anyone could possibly enjoy the movie. Then there are those – like myself – whose upbringing reinforced laughter in the face of the worst parts of life, and acknowledge that we are morbid human beings and attend funerals expressly for the beer. That said, if you enjoyed the likes of Drowning Mona or Fargo, you will probably love Love Comes to the Executioner and will want to watch it repeatedly.

Note: a passing understanding of mythology and basic Latin may be beneficial for the full enjoyment of this movie.

Thank you for reading my hub! Please take a moment and leave me a comment below to let us know your favorite morbid comedy. Let’s keep the conversation going, and have the added benefit of some movie recommendations.


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