After an estranged family buy an RV for a rekindling road trip, strange things start to occur as each of them get picked off one by one in the Toybox.
Directed by Tom Nagel and starring Denise Richards (The World is Not Enough) and Mischa Barton (The Sixth Sense), this interesting but flawed film has a little bit of everything for horror fans. What really makes TheToybox stand out in particular is that it lives up to its name on multiple fronts. On the one hand it is a toy box for the killer to play in, but also a mixture of various subgenres taking elements from films such as Paranormal Activity and Final Destination.
The set-up to the story is fairly straightforward. Our protagonists are a family that has drifted apart after the death of their mother and are brought together to fulfil one of her dying wishes - a family trip across country. Along the way, weird and unexplainable occurrences happen as the RV appears to have a mind of its own (think a more serious iteration of the likes of Rubber).
As mentioned previously, there is plenty on offer to enjoy but overall the execution isn’t quite there. At times, the dialogue and interactions between characters feels incredibly wooden and stilted with a lot of reactions to the deaths feeling very disingenuous. Because of this, audiences will never quite react the way they might be intended to, with little to no immediate danger or tension being portrayed. That being said, some of the deaths in the film have a big Final Destination vibe which is often a guilty pleasure for many.
Perhaps the most pertinent example of one of the film's many good ideas paying off comes in the form of a scene in the third act when the origins of the RV are revealed and the true horror element of the tale is well utilised. This at least provides the audience with a satisfying conclusion to an otherwise promising but slow (like an RV) haunting story.
At its core, The Toybox lives up to its name. Tom Nagel obviously had a plethora of ideas and wanted to experiment with them all at once, but this unfortunately leaves the film feeling top heavy and very clunky in its execution.
THE TOYBOX / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: TOM NAGEL / SCREENPLAY: JEFF DENTON / STARRING: DENISE RICHARDS, MISCHA BARTON, JEFF DENTON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW