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Thinner – 7


Director – Tom Holland

Cast – Robert John Burke, Joe Mantegna, Lucinda Jenney, Michael Constantine, Kari Wuhrer, Bethany Joy Lenz, Time Winters, Howard Erskine, Jeff Ware, Terence Kava

Release Year – 1996

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I remember seeing this movie when I was 13 or so, and I can honestly say that I had not seen the film since then until I viewed it the other day…13 years later. Aside from the main character getting thinner and thinner as the film went on I could not remember anything else about the story, but I quickly found joy in it once things got going. Based on a Stephen King short story, you can expect some of the usual elements provided in Stephen King’s tales, and thankfully this story comes with good execution as well. Thinner won’t win any awards and it may not be talked about 50 years from now, but it provided the goods and did so with pleasing results.

Billy Halleck is a very fat and pretty successful lawyer who was recently victorious in defending a mafia boss in court. While celebrating his victory he runs over an old gypsy woman, but Halleck avoids jail time thanks to a corrupt judge and police captain. Despite his recent victories in court Halleck will soon learn that his success will come at a “heavy” price when the gypsy woman’s father puts a curse on him to get “thinner”. Billy takes his sudden weight loss as sign of his life improving, but when his weight loss increases exponentially he realizes he has little time to undo the curse before he wastes away.

This story comes adapted by the talented Michael McDowell (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, “Tales From the Darkside” TV series) and director Tom Holland, and their writing talent shows. From the get-go we are thrown into the privileged and successful life of the modest Billy Halleck, with his young daughter and attractive wife showing that a 300 pound man can find love and happiness…especially when he is a rich lawyer. We see his seemingly perfect life only hindered by his extreme weight and lack of physical ability, but that soon changes when he denies justice to the gypsy woman’s family when he was obviously at fault for her death. Watching him enjoy his life even more as he continuously drops 3 pounds a day was great, especially when you know his joy will eventually turn to fear as the film progresses. Sure enough, when his weight loss began to scare him and those around him the fear kicked in, and it played into his emotions and attitudes towards his loved ones as well. We watch him break down and eventually devise a plan to confront the gypsy man who cursed him and have it reversed, but that will not be an easy task so he calls on an old “friend” to lend him a hand…and an under-folding AK47. I am glad that the writers took their time in developing this 92 minute piece, which felt much longer than 92 minutes but never dragged and kept me engaged throughout. Of course, any Stephen King adaptation would not be right without a climax heavy in dread, and while it was not 100% true to King’s original climax I did enjoy this evil rewritten one.

Director Tom Holland (Fright Night, Child’s Play) was fantastic in his execution of this piece, giving us enjoyable visuals and keeping the feeling of dread at a high throughout the appropriate parts of the film. I was surprisedat how much horror was shown in this piece, and I really did not remember the film containing all of the live-action horror that was provided. The effects used were fantastic as we watch Billy slowly waste away throughout the film, as well as some awesome effects for the other poor souls cursed by the gypsy man. The acting performances were good enough although a bit cheesy at times, but for a 90s film without a supreme budget I found it appropriate. Thinner marks the last full-length directoral effort of Tom Holland, a man with much talent that I wish would return to the genre someday.

Overall, Thinner is a positive adaptation of Stephen King’s short story that gives us an engaging experience thanks to a cool and creepy story. The direction is good and managed to keep me interested throughout the 92 minute experience thanks to awesome execution of the story, actors, and of course, the horror.

Rating: 7/10

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  1. September 3, 2012 at 10:23 am

    I recently saw this for the second time as well, on cable actually. It really did seem cheesy the second time around, but that scene where Billy goes to speak with the judge whose wife made up a lie about why he had been in hiding, and he doesn’t want Billy to see him at first, then we seem him and he is the hideous thing-the realization that Billy has then about his own future with the curse, is just such a poignant and dreadful scene. I’ve always loved Stephen King adapted movies. Great review!

    • September 4, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      It definitely comes with its 90s cheese but for what it was I found myself enjoying it. Of course, if it came with a lesser director it may have suffered a different fate. Thank you for the read and your input.

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