Monday, July 11, 2016

She said she was bored and lonely.

I used to frequent chat rooms.

Initially, I was there because I was curious about this whole internet fad, and talked to random people about movies, music and whatever. Then, pathetically, my roommates would join me in the chat rooms and we would harass people trying to have genuine conversations. When they would jump to other rooms (after inevitably succumbing to our incessant dickery), we would follow them and steal their usernames and say horrible things to whomever they were talking to previously. It was stupid, but holy shit was it amusing.

But then shit got real. I started talking to the same person (I'll roll the dice and say...girl) night after night, and began to think about them when I wasn't online. And then, well, then she did something I'll never forget. She wrote me an actual, tangible, hand-written letter. And...most scintillating of all?

She included her picture. 

The arrival of visual aids immediately ended my, uh, relationship. But in the 2009 documentary, talhotblond, shared pictures are crucial to the burgeoning online romance. Falling in love with someone's words may be risky enough, but when you also love the [provided] face that's saying them? Hell, it's even easier to lose your mind . Especially when your just might be totally f--king crazy in the first place.

Currently streaming on Netflix, director Barbara Schroeder's film details the deception and debauchery permeating throughout a doomed online romance. An unintended precursor to the much more effective 2010 documentary film Catfish, tallhotblond also features the unholy (but expected) three-headed monster of jealously, dishonesty and idiocy. But what separates Schroeder's film, sadly, is that in this story, the broken heart doesn't just belong to some blindsided lover, but to a family whose son was methodically murdered by one. 

When the documentary opens, Thomas Montgomery is already sitting in New York State prison. Balding, and in his late forties, the remarkably unspectacular Montgomery dutifully outlines the relationship that drove him to murder his co-worker, twenty-something Brian Barrett. See, a few years back, Montgomery, married at the time, had met a young girl named Jessi online (screename: tallhotblond) and the two became fast friends. Awww. 

Thomas Montgomery, convicted murderer.
But ol' Monty wasn't exactly upfront about being a regular asshole with a wife and two daughters. Not at all. In fact, Montgomery created this alter ego named marinesniper, essentially an enhanced version of his former self. Jessi fell for the handsome young soldier, and the feelings were fully reciprocated. But when she sends Montgomery a box full of panties that his wife opens, everything begins to unravel. And poor Brian? He's gets caught right in the middle.

While the story is compelling and salacious enough as it is, for whatever reason, someone made the decision to have the film be narrated by the victim. Yes, you read that correctly, Brian Barrett, the innocent dude killed as a result of online chatting inexplicably gets to tell his own f--king story. Maybe that sounds interesting on paper, I guess, but it's impossibly distracting (and rather cringe-worthy) in the film. It's completely baffling, honestly.

Speaking of poor artistic decisions, here are the spoiler-filled Boos. Sorry, guys. Nothing to cheer about in this one.

The first innocent victim? Grammar.

  • The only thing you can actually believe is that everybody is lying at all times.
  • Montgomery would be chatting with Jessi til six in the morning, only to have to be to work by seven. I'm assuming he was not only shitty to his family, but also terrible at his job, getting zero f--king sleep.
  • Which is likely the only justification for him to be able to describe himself as a red-headed Harrison Ford. 
  • Montgomery's wife, after finding the panties, sends a letter to Jessi telling her the truth about Monty. Inadvertently, this may have been the worst thing she could have done...because Jessi then gets with Brian after the...uh, piss off Montgomery.
  • Shrink Guy has a few nuggets of wisdom for us, sure, but he also looks like a total f--king psycho himself. Maybe we don't record his interview in front of his dragon collection? Maybe we shoot him in front of a bookshelf instead...
  • Man, the music is tough in this one. The Hallmark commercial score that plays over the text exchanges is particularly painful. I'm already bummed out as it is, and now I'm getting irritated, too.
  • Yikes. When things get sexual? It's No thank you.
  • Brian's parents make an appearance and it's entirely devastating. Of course, they're those people trying to make the best of it, but you can see they can barely hold it together. As a dad myself, the montage of their son growing up through family pictures tore my heart in into pieces.
  • Which makes the entirely speculative things I'd tell my family if I were alive narration borderline unforgivable. 
  • The ultimate reveal is staggering, though likely predictable for you savvy types. I truly thought Jessi wasn't a real person, but she, is. The Boo is how completely f--king f--ked up everything about Jessi is. talhotblond Jessi, that is.
  • How the Hell is this not a crime? Someone gets to start all this shit with people, get someone killed, and walk away scot f--king free? Seems like a giant load of bullshit...but I guess for this story, that's perfectly fitting, isn't it?
  • And finally, f--k this lady. F--k everything about her. Her bullshit story about why she did what she did (which should likely read, does what she does) is infuriating. And I can say that honestly.
Somewhere in one of the countless boxes full of shit that I move from house to house, I have the letter and picture from my one and only online relationship (at least I think I do). And while at the time I genuinely enjoyed talking to her, let's just say, thankfully, she wasn't my type. She may not have been hot or blond, but she sure was tall. Like, extremely tall. Probably 6'4" or 6'5".

I was 18 at the time, and not above never speaking to someone again solely because I wasn't attracted to them physically. Or that they could dunk on me. Sure, I was a callous douchebag, incapable of basic human decency. But at least I was honest about it.

And have I totally changed as an adult? Absolutely. 

I wouldn't lie to you.


  1. No yays? Wow. The whole thing sounds depressing. And to think, I almost watched it myself, but changed my mind. Phew...dodged that bullet. I mean, sucks for you, but ya know.

    1. Nah, there really wasn't anything to cheer about. This poor dude gets murdered for absolutely nothing. Simply nothing to celebrate (though that dude's dragon statue almost got one...almost).

      Hahaha...definitely sucks for me.

  2. Aww, now I feel bad because I know I'm the one you heard about this from. I thought it was fascinating for the trainwreck factor, but I also took issue with "Brian" narrating. I thought it was very insensitive.

    1. way! I was thoroughly compelled for the entire runtime, which is basically all you could really ask for, but the way that it ends makes is quite the Boo-fest. In a way, I guess you-know-who isn't ultimately responsible...but still. This shit is f--ked up.

      Ugh. Why did they do that? How could they do that and involve hie family? That takes either a lack of brains or a lot of balls.

    2. I used to frequent chatrooms all the time too, and my dad yelled at me for it once when I was a tween and I countered with "it's okay, I'm lying about my age" like that was an acceptable answer.

      Daughters are the worst, good luck lol.

    3. Hahahah....that's what my students tell me all the time. Oh, good. Phew. I thought for a second you weren't living a lie. Close one.

      She's not even three and I know she's going to kill me. Perhaps literally, too. As she loses her damn mind and enters Wolvie-beserker rage-mode over just about everything (then immediately says, I love you, Daddy).