In light of recent public events, such as the strange case of football player Manti Te’o’ and his made-up internet girlfriend, as well as the popularity of the MTV “reality” show, CATFISH, this film seems like a good choice to review.
This is a Made For TV movie that I saw on Lifetime last year, and it is, strangely enough, based on a true story. It’s about a middle-aged man named Thomas Montgomery (played by Garret Dillahunt) who lives with his wife Carol (Laura San Giacomo) and two daughters, and works in a warehouse. Some of his coworkers like to get online @ night and play poker together, and they convince him to join. So he gives it a shot, signing up as “Marinesniper”, despite never having been in the Marines, and is soon contacted via private message by another online player who calls herself “Talhotblond”. What begins as some innocent conversation, eventually turns to some mild flirting. She sends some pictures of herself, and she’s an attractive 18-year old blond girl named Katie (Ashley Hinshaw). He sends her an old picture of himself, when he was in his early 20’s, and tells her that’s what he looks like now, while also making up lies about being an active marine, deployed in Iraq.
As the months progress, their online flirtation increases dramatically, they’re sexting each other, and even sending each other gifts (like her sending him some of her lingerie), and begin talking about making arrangements to meet in person someday. All of this comes to a stop, when Carol sees Thomas’ untended computer one day, and reads all of their messages. Carol sends Katie a recent picture of Thomas, along with a letter explaining that she’s his wife, and that he’s really twice Katie’s age. Thomas is, naturally, humiliated, and Carol makes him sleep in the garage. Eventually they make-up, and when he gets back online and contacts Katie she expresses how hurt she is, but they agree to just be “friends” now. They both continue to play in the online poker room, but then Thomas notices Katie flirting with one of the other players, who is Thomas’ 22 year old coworker, Brian (Brando Eaton). Thomas pretends to be cool with it, realizing that Katie and Brian are closer in age, and both single, and therefore more right for each other. But as it goes on, we see him getting angrier and angrier. He starts fantasizing about Katie and Brian being together, and becomes jealous. And when Brian tells him that he’s planning to drive to another town to meet Katie in person, Thomas can’t take it anymore, and he goes to Brian’s house that night, and shoots him to death, before he can leave. Then he takes his wife and children on a short camping trip to get away. But when they get back home, the cops arrive and he is arrested.
But here’s the twist…
The police track down the home of Katie, to inform her of what happened, and they discover that Katie, was not the actual woman who was online as Talhotblond @ that time. In fact, she has absolutely no idea about any of this. It was her middle-aged MOTHER, Beth (Molly Hagan), who had been using her daughter’s photos and pretending that was her, while talking to men online. She was a big liar all this time, too! Ha!
Like I said, this was based on a real case. In real life, Thomas Montgomery plead guilty to murdering Brian Barrett and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. There was documentary, also called Talhotblond, filmed about the real case, but I have not seen that, yet. But this fictional film was very compelling. Garret Dillahunt really carries the film, and makes the character seem sympathetic, as he @ first just seems like a boring old man who gets in over his head, when his little fantasy life goes too far. Laura San Giacomo also gives a great performance as his wife. I also must give kudos to first-time director Courteney Cox, who also has a supporting role as one of Carol’s coworkers. She does a fine job both behind and in front of the camera.
TWO THUMBS UP.