‘On the Count of Three’ Review: A Dark Comedy That Acts as a Promising Calling Card

Gotta love a wholesome little film about a pair of suicidal buddies!

“On the Count of Three” is the directorial debut of Jerrod Carmichael, who stars alongside Christopher Abbott as two depressed friends who agree to kill each other at the end of the day. Tiffany Haddish, J. B. Smoove, Lavell Crawford, and Henry Winkler also star.

From the moment this premiered at Sundance back in 2021 (16 months ago but also what feels like five years), it has been on my watchlist. I’ve liked Jerrod Carmichael’s deadpan delivery since his small supporting roles in “Neighbors” and “Mid-90s,” and was interested to see what he could do from the director’s chair. And while “On the Count of Three” isn’t the best debut we’ve ever seen, it’s blend of drama and dark comedy hits often enough to help keep Carmichael’s stock growing.

I think deadpan and black comedy are two of the trickiest forms of the genre to pull off, and it’s why they’re both my favorite styles. With subject matter like this (that deals with self-harm and abuse), it takes a skilled hand to ensure things don’t get too depressing, pandering, or aimless, and Carmichael does an impressive job of balancing things. The film does bite off a bit more than it can chew by the end (for 86 minutes there are at least two plot threads that are added simply to aid the climax), but the chemistry between Carmichael and Christopher Abbott keep things going.

There are several laugh-out-loud moments throughout, with Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch’s screenplay knowing when it’s safe to crack a joke versus let the serious nature of a situation play out. The ending mostly worked for me, even if there is *something* about it that left me wanting just a touch more/different.

“On the Count of Three” isn’t a film you’ll throw on when you want a pick-me-up or to have some drinks with friends, but as Jerrod Carmichael’s star continues to shine (his stand-up special “Rothaniel” was recently met with acclaim) it is a promising start and I’m excited to see where he’s able to take things next.

Critics Rating: 7/10

United Artists

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