Upon watching the trailer I wasn’t sure what to think about the movie, and once I finally watched the film I realized what a dense work this was. It is something that cannot be summed up in a trailer, and if you’re feeling apprehensive about this work from the trailer, I encourage you to give it a viewing in full. Within the first few minutes of watching the film, the first death occurs very suddenly and seemingly without motive. I thought, maybe this is like if Christine was about an RV. With all due respect to Christine, The ToyBox goes a bit deeper on the happenings of the film. All horror films have events that help you dig deeper into the story and the motives of each death or horrible instance, but The ToyBox gives each instance like a deeper cut like each slice of a sadistic killer, and by the end, everything you need to know is exposed.
The story begins with a family who has just endured the loss of their mother, and Charles wife, played by Greg Violand. The brothers/sons are Steve and Jay. Steve has made a life for himself with a beautiful wife and daughter, but Jay seems to be lagging behind, creating some strife between the brothers. To bring everyone together, Charles has just purchased a vintage RV and encouraged the family to embark on a family road trip into the desert. The carnage happens before the family disembarks, and continues on after the family picks up stranded siblings to make a quick detour to an isolated attraction before finding help. Once isolated, the event escalate at an exponential rate with a perfect mix of gore and paranormal encounters.
One of the first things I want to touch on is the acting. The characters in this movie are all very well constructed, perhaps with the exception of Steve. The brothers have a very well constructed chemistry that is believable, and gets better as you find out more about their relationship. Though once family secrets are revealed, it goes to a very dark place. Denise Richards does a fantastic job portraying the mother, Jennifer. On a personal note, I have never gotten too deep into her career, but I found this to be a fantastic performance on her part, and a personal favorite. She shows the perfect amount of compassion, empathy, and when appropriate, grief.Samantha, our stranded sister, is smart, logical, and determined. Strong female roles are often so great that they are pushed straight to the foreground, but Samantha is utilized to be have this role specifically because her indirect involvement with the family allows her to keep level at the times of chaos.
Another aspect of this film that is done incredibly well is the imagery. As mentioned, there’s a sufficient amount of paranormal occurrences, but it doesn’t become saturated. There is a perfect amount of mystical visions, odd instances, and realistic consequences that remind you that there is true value in the balance of what you actually see and what you think you see. It’s enough gore to be effective and not so much that it becomes a joke.
This movie struck me for its balance, not only on the elements of a horror film, but also on how it balances the logical fears, that we face every day, but also the supernatural ones that make our nightmares so vivid. The loss of family and trying to mend things back together, the struggle of trying to make the best of bad situations, and the facing and revealing the truths of which we always fear in life hit our realistic fears. However, the idea that what once happened to a place still holds that bitter energy that can never be lifted, the concept that those spirits or feelings will never leave, and finally, that what they started is still not complete still plays into our irrational fears that we get when we find ourselves in a place of tragedy.
The ToyBox will open in Los Angeles at Laemmle's NoHo 7 on September 14th for a week run. On September 18th, the film will be available nationwide on Blu-ray, DVD and Cable and Digital HD, including Amazon Instant, iTunes, iN DEMAND, DirecTV, Comcast, Optimum, Dish, Google Play and more.