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The Toybox (2018)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/18/2018
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/12/2018
In the event that you aren't familiar with the term, a "script doctor" is someone who takes an existing screenplay and makes some improvements. (These heroes often go un-credited.) At one time or another, we've all been armchair script doctors, as we've watched a movie and said, "Why didn't they ______?" For example, do you remember when you were watching Christine and thought to yourself, "I like that the car can kill people, I just wish that it was bigger." Or how about that time you had just finished The Hills Have Eyes and you said to your friends, "That would have been better without the mutants." You don't recall having those thoughts? Well, apparently the makers of The Toybox were thinking those things for you.
Charles (Greg Violand) is very excited about taking his family on a trip in the used RV which he's just purchased. Along for the ride will be his son, Steve (Jeff Denton), who will be brining along his wife, Jennifer (Denise Richards), and their young daughter, Olivia (Malika Michelle). Charles' other son, Jay (Brian Nagel), who is a slacker, is also joining. As the RV chugs through a desert landscape, Charles spots a car on the side of the road. He stops and offers a ride to Samantha (Mischa Barton) and Mark (Matt Mercer). Things seem fine, but the RV suddenly stops running. Not only is the group now stranded, they are out in the middle of nowhere with limited supplies. As if that weren't bad enough, Jennifer and Samantha begin to see weird things in the RV and it's not long before objects are moving on their own.
The Toybox must not be getting much attention, or else I think that everyone would be talking about the killer RV movie. Not since Cousin Eddie's shitter was full has a recreational vehicle cause so many problems. The film follows in the long line of killer vehicles, such as the aforementioned Christine, The Car, Maximum Overdrive, and for those of you who really like things obscure, Killdozer. The RV here can start and stop on its own, and things within the vehicle can move. And, as in the book version of Christine, there is a presence with the RV which is wreaking havoc. Also as mentioned above, the film evokes thoughts of The Hills Have Eyes, as the RV "breaks down" in the middle of the desert and the group has to find a way to avoid the sweltering sun and survive.
If you couldn't already tell from the description, The Toybox is a weird movie. Four people are credited for having contributed to the story, which was then assembled into a screenplay by Jeff Denton. It would appear that everyone through in a sub-genre, as the movie is a killer car meets haunted house meets survival meets family drama combination. The result is a movie which is all over the place, in terms of tone and action. It drags at times, as the group argues and plays the "blame game". There are moments would should be shocking, but come across as quite unemotional. Attempts at suspense fall flat. Director Tom Nagel also edited the film and he seems to have been determined to use every frame that he shot, as we get some wildly random things thrown in. The acting also varies in quality. Denise Richards is called upon to emote and that just doesn't end very well for any of us.
Despite all of these issues, The Toybox is an oddly engrossing movie. If nothing else, just to see where it is going to go next, as it throws so many different things at the viewer. Yes, it does more things wrong than right, but there are some effective moments, and there is one death which is truly shocking. The movie can't be called "fun", as it's far too depressing for its own good, but for a low-budget movie of this caliber, you could certainly do worse. And, how many other killer RV movies do you have to watch this week?
The Toybox should have been advertised by Carfax on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Skyline Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is OK, but there is some blurring of the image at times, as the actors leave trails when they move. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The "shock" moments produce notable subwoofer effects which certainly add a jolt to the proceedings. These same moments, and some of the exterior scenes bring us subtle, but effective surround sound effects, which are accompanied by nicely detailed stereo action.
The Toybox Blu-ray Disc contains a few extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Tom Nagel, Writer/Actor Jeff Denton, Writer/Producer Jeff Miller, Producer/Actor Brian Nagel. "Behind the Scenes" (9 minutes) takes us on-set and on-location for some simple "fly on the wall" footage of various scenes being shot. We do get some in-camera comments here. The final extra is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long