Try to imagine your worst online shopping nightmare. Your package doesn’t just not come on time, it gets lost somewhere, and there is zero chance you will receive it same-day. You have to call customer service to plead your case, but even they are completely incompetent to come to your aid. What are the lengths you would go to get your package? Postal, somehow based on a true story, follows Phil (an unhinged performance from cutie Michael Shenefelt), who finds himself trapped in this exact horror scenario. Set in September of 2016, this comedy/thriller hybrid delivers nail-biting tension and hilariously relatable situational humor.
It is the morning of Phil’s emotional rock-bottom, a day that starts just like any other. This is the day he will get an engagement ring in the mail. He will fly to Hawaii to surprise his girlfriend and pop the big question; they will live happily ever after. There is one big problem: he missed his delivery. In his slapdash attempts to retrieve his package before his flight, Phil commits various crimes that will eventually lead to potential criminal charges, including a $32,000 theft and prison time.
The events unfold in a non-linear way, starting us well after the awful day from hell that will change Phil’s life forever. The threads of the plot unravel with quiet simplicity; each reveal carries the weight of a shocking reveal or an outrageous situation. Glimpses into Phil’s childhood trauma help to explain away some of his behaviors. I loved the transition shot from Phil holding his cell phone and waiting on hold, to his youth holding a Gameboy Color. As Phil’s terrible circumstances keep getting worse, the layers of paint peel from Phil’s psyche to reveal an ugly center beneath.
Much of the humor evolves from the customer service calls, which is the basis for the ‘true story’ of it all. The agonizing reality of being placed on hold, forced to listen to the same dull recording over and over, is almost like a war flashback. Phil screams at the first representative that helps him that he is “the biggest gaping asshole I’ve ever encountered.” Though the company claims to be “America’s most reliable delivery service,” the juxtaposition of an infomercial to Phil’s package missing serves as a reminder that this is clearly not the case. Writer/director Tyler Falbo stages the action in a frantic way that is gripping and tense. The movie is full of hilarious dialogue, which constantly serves to flesh out this complex character study. The next time I’m waiting for a package to be delivered, I’m sure Postal will pop into my mind.
Postal delivers a package to rent or own on North American VOD platforms June 8th.