A quietly charming indie film based on Israeli writer Etgar Kerets novella Knellers Happy Campers, Wristcutters: A Love Story follows recent suicide Zia (Patrick Fugit) and his journey through a limbo set aside for those who kill themselves. This world is only slightly different from life, except the color is muted, there are no flowers or stars, and no one can smile. After spending some time in this world, Zia meets Eugene (Shea Whigham), a Russian rock star, and Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon), who claims she didn't kill herself and is trying to get back to the living world. The three of them set off into this depressing dimension in order to find Zia's ex-girlfriend, who has also killed herself, and the People In Charge, who have the power to send Mikal back.
Despite what you think, it's definitely not an emo film.
This film contains examples of:
- Chekhov's Gun:
- "If a girl says she'll just be five minutes, she's not coming back". Later, Mikal says she'll be just five minutes to Zia when she goes off with the PIC, but then everything gets sorted out and she leaves without having said goodbye to Zia
- The black hole under the seats of Eugene's car.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: Pizzeria Kamikaze, itself based on "Kneller's Happy Campers."
- Crapsack World: Crosses over with Mundane Afterlife and Scenery Gorn, as the cinematography shows how drab and lifeless this limbo is.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The protagonists get mixed up with a cult, whose leader claims that they must kill themselves again in order to reach the afterlife.
- Dream Apocalypse: After his trip down the Rabbit Hole, Zia wakes up in a hospital bed sometime after he offed himself, the adventure in limbo seemingly a figment of his imagination. Subverted when he notices Mikal on the bed next to him, and they both smile at each other.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Something of a Deus ex Machina since Zia, who deliberately killed himself, gets returned to life via Kneller's status as a PIC.
- Electrified Bathtub: While not exactly this, Eugene pouring his beer onto his guitar runs on the same principle.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The PIC stands for People In Charge.
- Instrument of Murder: Eugene electrocutes himself with an electric guitar and a bottle of beer.
- Intentionally Awkward Title: Go on, try to say the title next time you're talking to someone, and see if you don't get looks.
- Ironic Hell: So, you killed yourself to escape failure, loss, rejection, crushing ennui, or other general horribleness of real life... and you end up in another life that's largely the same only a tiny bit worse. It doesn't get more cruelly appropriate than that for someone out to escape a life already sapped of reason to live.
- Percussive Prevention: How Eugene handles his little brother's post-soccer meltdown.
- The Power of Apathy: The Crapsack World the film takes place in has a number of rules that make it banal and devoid of any satisfaction, one being that anyone can cause a miracle to happen, but only if they don't care whether it does.
- Race Lift: From Israeli to generically American. Especially noticeable with the Arab taxi driver.
- Running Gag: Zia keeps dropping things under his seat in Eugene's car, to the point that Eugene asks him if he's doing it on purpose.
- Shout-Out: Eugene is based on Eugene Hütz, the lead singer of Gogol Bordello. Indeed, the music that Eugene's band "recorded" is actually Gogol Bordello.
- Shrug Take: Zia seems to take the whole idea of a black hole in his friend's car pretty well.
- Suicide Attack: Eugene thinks this is how the Arab taxi driver got there.
- Sweet and Sour Grapes: At Kneller's camp, Zia is repeatedly told that he can't perform a miracle, like floating in the air or changing an object's color, unless he stops caring about performing one. Meanwhile, everyone else performs miracles around him because they don't see it as a big deal. After Mikal leaves, the miracles no longer matter to him, so naturally, he performs one - the same miracle Mikal nonchalantly performed earlier.
- Swirly Energy Thingy: One exists as a pocket black hole under the seats of Eugene's car.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Eugene's brother tried to kill himself for the first time when he was really young.
- Urban Fantasy: It takes place in an afterlife that's the Crapsack World version of ours, but small miracles do happen, like fish changing colour and a match floating up the sky and becoming a star. You just have to not care about it...