Horror Movie Review: Thinner (1996)

Is there anything quite like a Stephen King book to movie adaption? Cheesy, often poorly told, poorly acted and awkward to watch. The list of bad adaptions easily outweighs the good and even the ones that are fondly thought of are normally covered in nostalgia’s glow.

Often the best adaptions are the ones that come from King’s short stories or his lesser known work. Well, Thinner breaks that winning formula as it’s one of his more unknown stories (by contrast to his big hitters) that is also severely lacking in the movie department too.

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It’s a mess, a sometimes entertaining mess but a mess none the less. In fact it might be the cheesiest King adaption since the likes of Maximum Overdrive.

Directed by Tom Holland, Thinner stars Robert John Burke as Billy Halleck, an upper class lawyer who is obese. We’re given instant insight into the kind of man he is as we see him guzzling food like an animal and celebrating getting crime boss Richie Ginelli (Joe Mantegna) off with murder.

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He’s not a monster but he is the living embodiment of gluttony and this comes back to bite him in a big way when he is involved in a hit and run accident.

Billy accidentally knocks down and kills a gypsy woman and gets away with it thanks to friends in high places. The gypsy woman’s father is outraged by the injustice and curses Billy by touching his face and saying the word “thinner”.

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Billy begins to lose weight rapidly, pounds per day and at first him and his wife are happy as his health improves. However, Billy continues to lose weight, more and more regardless of what he eats or does. His wife begins to fear cancer but Billy’s health checks out clean.

His weight continues to drop and when Billy checks in with the men who helped him get away with the gypsy death he discovers they also were cursed. One with the word “lizard” who is growing scales all over his body and the other with “leper” which is self-explanatory.

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Now convinced that the curse is real (unlike his wife) Billy has to find the gypsy and set things right to save his life.

One of the odd things about Thinner is how it avoids looking to deeply into the ethical behaviour of Billy. It’s a missed opportunity as the man is corrupt yet we’re almost expected to feel sorry for him. He’s wholly unlikable though as are most of the characters. Even the gypsies who we should be sympathetic towards are frustratingly written.

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It’s not helped that many of the performances here are pretty dire. From lazy and clichéd to over-acting, there are few who come out of this looking good. It feels like there should have had a more serious tone to the film but it plays out like a poorly done comedy horror but without the comedy.

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Time has not made it any better and it’s finale it insultingly predictable. It plays out in the safest way possible. Leaving you feeling slightly dirty thanks to its gluttony of insipid characters.

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  • Carl Fisher

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  • The Final Score - 5/10
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