Director of Clowntown Tom Nagel brings you The Toybox, a slashtastic thriller brought to you by Steel House Productions. The Toybox features Denise Richards and Mischa Barton, as well as writer Jeff Denton, Brian Nagel and Face Off’s David H. Greathouse. The Toybox is available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and in Digital HD on your favorite streaming platforms.
Before true crime fans get too excited or unsettled, this film is not about David Ray Parker, the Toybox Killer. This is the story of haunted RV. An estranged family goes out in a rickety old RV, hoping to mend relationships after the death of the matriarch. As they embark out into the desert they come across a brother and sister (Barton and Mark Mercer,) with a broken down car and in need of a ride to the next town. But as the group travels further off the beaten path, they discover their camper hold evil secrets, and couldn’t be happier to have its victims all alone in the middle of nowhere.
For something like a Redbox rental, this isn’t too bad of a ride. The performances are all enjoyable at the least, as well as the relaxed and familiar relationships the characters hold. Although some characters are pretty 1-dimensional, (Barton’s character Samantha is “good at cars.” That’s all we get. Her brother gives us even less,) what is there is delivered by a strong group of talented, professional actors. Nearly everyone gets a moment to shine and emote, even if there are many pretty heavy things covered. My biggest issue was the fact that the grandfather never seems to hold any real guilt on driving into the middle of nowhere and ignored the requests to turn around until it was too late. The RV is old and clearly shouldn’t be driving onto dirt trails anywhere, let alone the middle of the desert.
That is precisely what the land bus wants him to do, though. Greathouse’s Robert Alan Gunthry is certifiably creepy and insane. His spirit and the gruesome scenes that are dished out by his hand are showstopping, and certainly worth the watch. Denise Richards also delivers an anguished and stellar performance when things go awry, and is a certain stand out in the film. Barton is becoming quite the B-movie staple, or at least enjoys herself a horror script. I’ve had the task of reviewing two of her other films in the VOD realm, (The Basement, Zombie Killers: Elephant Graveyard,) and this is by far some of her better work. Overall, I feel that every actor here deserved a bit better character development. Another saving grace is the gore. It takes awhile for the real bloody action to set in, but when it does it is shot beautifully, and the makeup effects are a real star.
As I hinted at before, the film itself has a slow start. Still not sure what the kid at the beginning of the film had anything to do with anything except to show off the RV’s fancy flashing light trick, but at least it’s a dose of levity for an otherwise dark feature. What it does do is lead you a bit astray regarding the tone of what you are about to see, which leads to disappointment as you are treated to pretty banal subjects such as cave paintings and awkward conversation within a broken family.
This movie feels like a throwback to the golden age of slasher shows. It’s hard not to compare it to classics such as Christine or The Hills Have Eyes. Although it doesn’t quite achieve a spot in the pantheon of the 70’s and 80’s heavyweights, it’s still a decent watch to rent for a buck on a Thursday night.
Be sure to check out the trailer below, and find The Toy Box on the platform of your choice: