What’s scarier than a haunted house? Well, how about a haunted RV? Cause that’s what we’re dealing with here in Tom Nagel’s latest (low budget) horror flick, The Toybox. The premise is pretty standard in the horror genre, and the same rules apply as when watching a haunted (fill in the ____ ) film.
Steve (Jeff Denton) and his wife Jennifer (Denise Richards) decide that the way they’re going to deal with the death of Steve’s mother is by packing up their things and take a family road trip along with their 10-year-old daughter and Steve’s father, who just purchased a used RV for a ridiculously low price (gee I wonder why). They reluctantly convince Steve’s brother Jay (Bryan Nagel) to tag along, even though he has hostile memories of his father that haven’t been resolved.
The movie wastes no time in letting you know there is something wrong with the RV when at the very beginning of the film, a young boy sees something coming from it and goes in to investigate. Seconds later we hear him being ripped apart.
“…the RV was previously owned by a serial killer who murdered all of his victims in the RV…”
So when the family (who the film doesn’t even bother to give last names) finally hits the road, we get a very brief moment of tension between the father and his two adult sons as they stroll down memory lane. All that’s understood is that he left his kids when they were very young for an unknown reason to us (the audience).
But, that moment is soon interrupted when on a pretty deserted highway the family sees a couple on the side of the road, Samantha (Mischa Barton) and Mark (Matt Mercer), who’s car looks to be out of commission.
Being the good samaritans that the story is establishing them to be, they naturally stop to help the couple out. Samantha, who has something to hide, is leery of getting on the RV. Mark is more than willing accept the help. And it’s from here on that things start to get messy.
Long story short, the family (and their guests) find out that the RV was previously owned by a serial killer who murdered all of his victims in the RV and continues to haunt his old stomping grounds. One by one, he takes the family out in gruesome and (somewhat) creative ways.
“…just enough to be taken somewhat seriously and provides a few valid jump-scares.”
The question is now, how does The Toybox hold up as a horror film? Let’s be completely honest, you’re not going to get much acting power coming out of Denise Richards and Mischa Barton. So let’s just call a spade a spade here. With that said, they didn’t do a terrible job either. Both were convincing enough to make you feel a sense of real jeopardy. If anything, it was the men in this movie that were noticeably bad.
As far as horror movie villains go, the killer ghost, “Robert Gunthrey,” will never be synonymous with names like “Freddy Kruger” or “Jason Voorhees.” But, in a very “B-movie” way, he is as scary as the budget allowed him to be. And some of the visuals really did a fairly decent job of setting the tone of the film.
Overall, I’m shocked to say that I didn’t hate The Toyboy. I think it does just enough to be taken somewhat seriously and provides a few valid jump-scares. If you don’t think about the plot too hard, you might even enjoy it.
The Toybox (2018) Directed by Tom Nagel. Written by Jeff Denton, Jeff Miller, Bryan Nagel, and Tom Nagel. Starring Denise Richards, Mischa Barton, Jeff Denton, Bryan Nagel, Greg Violand.
5 out of 10