Good that the Stephen King supernatural novella which provided Thinner's storyline is, it should never have made it into a 90-minute movie. That title is just so apt - there's just not enough here for director Tom Holland to get his teeth into. Instead you walk out into the daylight feeling you've just watched what might have made a passable Twilight Zone TV episode, or a top-notch X-File (imagine a frail and too skinny Mulder desperately following the cooling trail of a gypsy caravan, while a confounded Scully looks for an elusive scientific explanation), but should never have been stretched to twice its natural length. Horror flicks need to be tight and pacy, and this ain't - it's just a lightweight bit of mystical mumbo-jumbo and bulimic terror that's a decent enough appetiser, but no main course.
To effect Halleck's weight loss, skinny Robocop 3 star Robert John Burke begins the film wearing the sort of latex bodysuit that transformed Eddie Murphy into a blobsome Sherman Klump for the Nutty Professor remake, and then sheds pad after pad as the days pass by. Eventually he's reduced to an emaciated skeleton that's so near to death he has to enlist hood Richie The Hammer (Joe Mantegna) to help track down the wizened ol' fortune teller whose curse is rapidly killing him.
Unfortunately, once the pistol-packing Mantegna turns up, the quite interesting supernatural DOA set-up soon morphs into a humdrum pursuit thriller that's only sporadically brought to life by supporting characters like Kari Wuhrer's super-sexy gypsy bitch. Yes, there may be the odd deft touch (Halleck's two pals, who also become afflicted with similar grisly curses; Mantegna balancing a flask of acid on top of a gypsy's forehead), but by the end Thinner is a tiresome film that's about 40 minutes too long. There's no argument with the acting, and almost all on the technical side acquit themselves admirably, but Tom Holland's direction is too limp and lifeless to provide the style necessary to transform King's skinny plot into something special.
If David Cronenberg had been given free reign here, we might well have had a macabre work of warped genius. As it is, Thinner's about as scary as Scooby Doo.
Like a TV anthology episode in the limited story provided, Thinner is a Stephen King novella that's stretched to breaking point. Conventional wisdom holds that King's shorter stories make better films than the long ones - but not here.