The Mailman (2004)


USA. 2004.


Director – Tony Mark, Screenplay – Brian Mazo, Producer – Erin Starr & Todd Wade, Photography – Courtney Jones, Music – David Weinstein, Production Design – Elvis Strange. Production Company – Rolling Pictures Inc


Rob Arbogast (Darius Foxx), Bryan W. Lukasik (Daniel Everson), Collene Taylor [Ari Tinnen] (Beth Everson), Jesse Merrill (Jay), Jamielyn Kane (Veronica), Gordon Anthony Davis (Mayor Eastman), Gil Zuniga (Jack Everson), Mari Smookler (Beverly Everson), Diana Kauffmann (Mayor’s Secretary), Dan Harper (Meter Man), Danielle Aimee Petty (Miss Sinclair)


Beth Everson returns home from college to her family in the small town of Smithfield, California. At the same time, a new postman Darius Foxx takes over following the abrupt and mysterious departure of his predecessor. However, Darius is vicious and amoral, he opening and reading everybody’s mail, vandalizing parcels and taunting people with personal information. He also makes sleazy come-ons to Beth. Beth’s younger brother Daniel is seething over the fact that Beth has taken up with his best friend Jay. Darius taunts Daniel with information from a letter he has opened, revealing that Daniel is adopted and has never been told so by what he believed were his parents. Angry at the deception, Daniel joins in Darius’s games of malice and blackmail, unaware that these have led to murder.

The Mailman is a low-budget psycho film that went directly to dvd release and attained little profile. Director Tony Mark has made a number of other low-budget horror films including Visions of Darkness (1998) and the subsequent Asylum (2007).

The title The Mailman sounds exactly like one of the psycho-thrillers produced by Pierre David during the 1990s that were all premised around a job description – the likes of The Paperboy (1994), The Secretary (1995), The Dentist (1996), The Nurse (1996), The Landlady (1997) – with The Mailman perhaps being a title that David never got around to finding a psycho-thriller application for. The handful of reviews out there all call The Mailman cheap and a bad movie. I don’t entirely agree with that – the film has some amusingly redeeming qualities (more on that below). What you cannot deny is that it looks cheaply shot. This becomes apparent from the opening scene – the cinematography is some of the most sub-par work that one has seen in a professional production in some time, where it often looks like the film has been shot indoors using only natural light. Moreover, there are times that Tony Mark’s direction is laughably melodramatic – like the scene where the mailman (Roy Arbogast) stabs the gasman to death in the backyard and then kneels over the body howling at the sky.

The Mailman‘s redeeming features are that it is a wonderfully sordid little film. The film gains its greatest interest when it gets to the scenes of Rob Arbogast’s mailman opening the mail and launching his blackmail schemes – shocking Bryan W. Lukasik with news that he is adopted; threatening to expose the mayor’s sons’ drug dealing; taunting Collene Taylor that her boyfriend (Jesse Merrill) is receiving mail from other girls. There is a great scene where Roy Arbogast and Bryan W. Lukasik sit around opening a stack of mail and laughing as they discover other people’s secrets by reading credit card bills or opening parcels to find mail-order inflatable rubber dolls. Interestingly, the film reaches its end without ever letting us know whether Rob Arbogast was making up that Bryan Lukasik is adopted to manipulate him or not. For that matter, we get constant hints that something sinister has happened to the mailman’s predecessor but never learn what. Elsewhere, Tony Mark spices things up by throwing in constant gratuitous toplessness – focusing on Collene Taylor soaping herself in the shower or as she undresses to a bikini on the beach; the mailman coming across a woman (Danielle Aimee Petty) sunbathing topless in her yard; or peeping in on lesbian scenes between the mayor’s secretary (Diana Kauffmann) and her girlfriend.

Among the cast, both Bryan W. Lukasik as the troubled teenager and Ari Tinnen who appears as the sister under the pseudonym of Collene Taylor play with a degree of talent that one could see them opening up into careers elsewhere. Rob Arbogast plays the role of the mailman with a maximum degree of cocky taunting sleaziness that goes way beyond professionalism into a clear relish for the part. The only point the film topples over into the campy is the scene where a body falls out of a cupboard as Arbogast stands there delivering a big campy Freddy Krueger one-liner: “Talk about skeletons in the closet.”

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