Tom Holland’s (dir. Fright Night, Child’s Play) Thinner, based on the novel by Stephen King, is a body horror/thriller starring Robert John Burke as Billy Halleck, a man with a wife, a daughter, a promising career, good friends, and a weight problem. A really big weight problem. Everybody is concerned with Billy’s weight, but Billy is having trouble staying the course and keeping to his diet.
As Billy struggles with his weight and wins court cases, a group of traveling gypsies come to town. That’s right, a group of traveling gypsies have come to town. Just like back in 1996, when the film was made, you could not swing a stick without smacking a couple traveling gypsies. This is where you must either buy in to the premise, or don’t, but I recommend buying in; even though the first half of the film struggles to get its footing, the last half is a frantic marathon and you should be glad to have stuck around.
Billy has just won an important case for an important client, Ritchie “The Hammer” Ginelli (Joe Mantenga). During the drive home from a celebratory dinner, Billy’s wife tries to distract him from his problems with food by giving him a sexual favor as he drives. Unfortunately, during this drive, Billy hits and kills an old gypsy woman who was crossing the street.
Billy has a lot of friends, and during the inquest into the crash, the judge and the chief of police are both morally corrupt in their actions that lead Billy to an easy acquittal. On his way out of the inquest, Billy is approached by the leader of the gypsies, and the father of the woman killed in the car accident, Tudzu Lempke (Michael Constantine). Tudzu caresses Billy’s cheek with the back of a gnarled, 109-year-old hand and whispers the curse, “Thinner.”
The weight starts to come off fast. Very fast. Billy starts to lose three, four, five pounds each day. It doesn’t matter how much he eats, and he eats up to 12,000 calories from morning to night to no avail. As the fat comes off, the movie picks up steam. First, “The Hammer” gets involved to help his friend, and “The Hammer” knows how to get the attention of the gypsies. He is the catalyst for several good revenge scenes. Second, the script ramps up with lots of interesting moments. Each person who helped Billy out in the inquest has also been cursed by Tudzu and are dealing with all types of body horror as one appears to be turning into some sort of lizard, and the other has painful-looking tumors bursting from his skin.
The problem with the first half of the movie is mostly the prosthetics. From the opening scene, you know you are looking at a guy in a fat suit. You would know this from the title of the film. So, as the prosthetics go away and he gets thinner, Robert John Burke’s acting skills go up as he is less encumbered. The jokiness/playfulness surrounding the fat suit also begin to go away. There is a cutesiness to how Burke is treated while in the costume that disappears as the film winds to its end.
- New Audio Commentary with Producer Mitchell Galin and Actor Joe Mantegna
- New Audio Commentary with Film Critic / Historian Lee Gambin and Novelist Aaron Dries
- New “Weight of the World” – Interview with Director Tom Holland
- New “Thick and Thin” – Interview with Actor Lucinda Janney
- New “The Incredible Shrinking Man” with Special Make-Up Effects Artist Vincent Guastini
- Audio Commentary with Tom Holland and Joe Mantegna
- Vintage Featurette: “The Magic of Special Effects Make-Up”
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spots
- Still Gallery
Strong bonus features and a strong second half make Tom Holland’s Thinner worth the watch.Buy Scream Factory’s Thinner Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray