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14.9.18

WRITTEN REVIEW: Toy Box

By CORY CARR
Every town has it's own creepy haunts and regionally famous oddities. Ya know, the house or the car that make you think to yourself as you walk by; “Man who would live there? Talk about skeletons in the closet.” or “What kinda lunatic drives that thing around? If that isn't a cry for help I don't know what is.”.

But in the case of Toy Box, it isn't a creepy house that might be haunted and be filled with serial killer cannibals or an old van idling next to a playground with tinted windows and an airbrushed fresco on one side of a bare chested warrior harnessing the power of the heavens with his sword held high. No, Toy Box concerns a particular recreational vehicle and the family who inhabit it. But it's that same curiosity that makes the RV in question so dangerous.

Toy Box begins with a grieving family who are trying to put the death of their mother behind them. Charles, an older retired gentleman and husband of the recently passed, hasn't been terribly close with his sons since they reached adulthood and went their separate ways. But since the death of their mother, Charles is trying to reconnect with his boys, hoping they can make up for lost time.


Leading up to these events, Charles purchased a new used RV as a retirement gift to himself with the intention being that he and his wife could spend retired life together on the open road. But with her passing, he is forced to look deeper at his relationship with his remaining family.

As for the RV, this thing has seen better days. It's dented up, and it's once lavish accoutrements are now worn out and nonfunctional. Even though it's plain to see how awful the RV is, the family try to keep good spirits and stay positive about the death trap they're riding in.

On this maiden voyage are Charles, Steve and Jay, of course, but also Steve's wife Jennifer (Denise Richards), and their little daughter Olivia. Along the way they pick up a young brother and sister who's truck has broken down in the desert – rounding out our total to a robust seven potential victims for what lay ahead.

The family set out to visit ancient cave paintings somewhere in the remote and isolated landscape of the California desert, but they will never reach their destination.

Just when the film seems to have lead it's audience into an inbred Wes Craven nightmare (The Hills Have Eyes), we learn that the malevolent force working against the family and their passengers isn't an external one, but an internal one. The family RV seems to have a dark and dangerous past. THIS RV is a haunted house on wheels.


From here on out the RV starts to work against the family. First menacing them by breaking down, and later turning down right deadly as the RV targets the family. A story begins to unfold about it's previous owner and the many murders carried out by him with visions of bloodied women and children.

As things become more and more tense, tempers flare and old family wounds are reopen, making each of them all the more vulnerable to the attacks of the serial killing RV, like things to be played with in it's toy box.


Toy Box might just be a little too much of an “A” picture for it's own good. The production values and acting are pretty great – lending the film ample opportunity to really let the emotional family stuff hit home. This leaves Toy Box to feel grounded and carry weight, but with that said, it IS about a haunted RV – which in the hands of a different creative team would be the stuff of “B” movie magic.

At times there are some really grotesque and unnerving visuals, along with decent suspense built up. However, where a few of the deaths were concerned, they were either telegraphed so far ahead they they lost all suspense and didn't come as a surprise OR seemed to erupt from a stand still. Proving the old Joe Bob Briggs drive-in adage, “anyone can die at any time”.


Toy Box is an odd combination of things, at times reminiscent of Paranormal Activity, Final Destination and even The Devils Rejects which were sprinkled into this familial drama. It feels a little uneven, and if you're the type who gripes over slow burning horror, you might not like it. For me it began a little generic, but it certainly grew on me the longer I watched it, and I loved how supernaturally surreal and doomy it became by the end.

With that said, if you're looking for something new and a little different to wet your creepy whistle, check out Toy Box.


CORY CARR
Reviewer | Producer & Editor | Resident Conspiracy Theorist

A blue collar dude with facial hair that would make his Norse ancestors proud. He is a collector of comic books, retro video games, and obscure relics from the VHS era.

"TOY BOX"

★ ★ ★

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