POSTAL • This Brilliant Dark Comedy Proves Truth is Always Stranger than Fiction

Written & Directed by Tyler Falbo

Posted In:   From Issue 885   By: Robert E Martin

19th September, 2019     0

In this riveting and engaging dark comedy film written and directed by Tyler Falbo, which is based upon true events, a young man’s life unravels over the course of a customer service phone call and we are front-and-center in the maelstrom of confusion that transpires.  Through the fast-paced rendering of this tale Falbo creates a breakthrough piece of filmmaking as it quickly becomes a contemporary metaphor for the breakdown of human connection in this digital age, where the world is at our fingertips.

Postal reimagines the emotional meltdown of Philip Tress, a Jacksonville millennial described by local media as “unable to break from a psychotic, unrequited love affair”, who’s downfall gained notoriety because his meltdown was documented by multiple recordings of phone calls Phillip made to a customer service agent at an international shipping company when he was trying to track an engagement ring that was lost in the mail.

The seemingly implausible unfurling of events that transpire make it difficult to believe this film is based upon a true story because of how crazy it is; but as the old adage goes: truth is always stranger than fiction. And as one critic points out: it takes place in Florida, where a dude actually got his face eaten off one time, so it may not be as far-fetched as it seems.

POSTAL is one of the most insane stories you will ever see on the silver screen and its best to leave its surprises a secret; but if you have a dark and demented sense of humor and share a sweet spot for watching people wipe out on America’s Funniest Home Videos, you will likely find this film to be hilarious from start to finish.  Replete with tight and witty dialogue the pace is very rapid-fire and its dense with humor and thrills.

An important reason the film works so well is because of the deftly crafted character development. The protagonist, Phillip Tress, is very compelling and sympathetic. As the movie goes on and you learn more about him, you start to pity him more and more. He is a great example of a Byronic hero.

On a parallel plane, the acting in the movie is part of what drives this home. Michael Shenefelt does an excellent job as the protagonist. He nails the physical comedy, but it is in the quieter, more emotional moments where he really shines. If this film catches on like it should (and hopefully it will), Shenefelt has the potential to be a breakout, as his talent is evident. Supporting actor Eric Vega is very funny too, stealing the scene a handful of times.

When asked about his background as a director and the genesis of this film, Falbo explains that he’s been writing and directing comedy shorts for essentially his entire life.

“I made over 50 sketches with friends in high school and stuck with comedy throughout film school,” he explains.  “After graduating from UCF in 2014, I moved to Atlanta and worked on film and television sets as a production assistant. One of my duties as an office PA was to deal with shipping, and some of the most frustrating moments of my life involved customer service calls with FedEx and UPS regarding urgent packages.”

“At the time, I had success on YouTube with a few of my shorts going viral, so I thought the story of Phillip Tress could be a great short; but the more I thought about it, to have the audience relive that customer service frustration would require a feature length movie for the tension to build.”

When asked about the creative objectives he was attempting to deliver with Postal, Tyler points to the fact that all of us have had bad customer service experiences. “I wanted to figure out a way to express the heightened emotions that we all feel in those moments,” he states. “Essentially, the goal was to make a guy on hold with customer service exciting for 90 minutes. We wanted to make every setback and obstacle in Phillip’s path hurt you the same way it hurt him.”

In terms of his own challenges and obstacles involved with bringing this film together, Tyler references a common and universal problem: Money. “This was my first feature so we didn’t have any funding. Luckily, I have really talented friends who worked for little to nothing. We also shot in mainly one location with only two actors and we needed to figure out how to make that exciting for a full-length feature.”

“The film contains a lot of dialogue between Phillip and a customer service representative, so we tried to work in as many visual gags as possible to keep the scenes feeling fresh.  We also worked in a bunch of flashbacks of Phil as a child in order to give context to his complete meltdown.”

Falco says he grew up obsessed with Marin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson and still is. “As far as comedy goes, a major influence is the film Four Lions by Chris Morris. I watch that movie once a year and to me it exemplifies the purpose of comedy.”

Usually, when a movie goes for such a non-stop level of high intensity, it becomes overwhelming, however Postal manages to rein it in and stay fresh and fun. The cinematography and editing both move the story along at a brisk pace. Additionally, the practical effects when the movie gets craziest are great.

Overall, Postal is an excellent dark comedy. It has one of the best scripts of the year so far, filled with brilliant dialogue and excellent character development. Although it doesn’t have distribution yet, this is one you will definitely want to keep on your radar because it will be making a big splash.

“Postal is a unique experience because it may give audiences an opportunity for catharsis with any terrible customer service experiences they’re holding onto deep down,” concludes Falbo.

“At least that would be nice.”

‘POSTAL’ will be screened on Saturday, September 28th at 6:30 pm at The State Theatre in Bay City.



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