Denise Richards. Mischa Barton. A haunted RV. The desert. Oh, yes. I was very excited to start my viewing of The ToyBox, the new supernatural horror film from Skyline Entertainment and Steel House Productions that’s hitting select theaters on September 14th and digital and DVD on September 18th. Denise Richards is Hollywood royalty who never got the attention she deserved despite starring roles in Drop Dead Gorgeous, The World is Not Enough, Wild Things, scifi’s Starship Troopers and horror’s Valentine. Mischa Barton is a former teen queen thanks to her role on “The O.C.” from 2003 to 2006, and now she’s a certified horror actress delivering standout performances within the genre. The two of them paired together was a match made in heaven, and their star-power is enough to draw people to this movie. More-so, the plot of The ToyBox mixes Christine with Poltergeist, and the atmosphere and location adds the feel of The Hills Have Eyes. It’s a horror film crapshoot, and I truly believe that The ToyBox is going to be one of the most talked about releases this Fall. Written by Jeff Denton and directed by Tom Nagel (Clowntown), The ToyBox also stars Denton, Brian Nagel, Greg Violand, Malika Michelle, Matt Mercer and David H. Greathouse. Get ready, I’m about to drive right into this review!
In the film, Jennifer and her family go on a summer road trip in her father-in-law’s newly acquired RV. As tensions arise between the estranged family members and the miles into the desert increase, strange happenings and unfortunate accidents begin plaguing the vehicle. It’s not until they stop on the side of the road and pick up two stranded strangers that the paranormal activity kicks into third gear. Soon, the RV takes on a mind of its own, eventually crashing and leaving its drivers in the middle of the scorching wilderness – alone, afraid and injured. As night falls, the family is forced to fight for their lives as the secrets within the RV’s walls come to life… and attack anyone who dares step inside. A collaboration between Millman Productions, Ron Lee Productions and ETA Films, The ToyBox is a warning to never leave the safety of your quiet neighborhood to travel across the state with your in-laws in a 70’s styled RV that smells like death. A culmination of Christine, Poltergeist and The Deliberate Stranger, The ToyBox is a nightmare that Jennifer will never forget… if she even survives! Find it in theaters, on digital and on DVD in the next two weeks!
With respect, I think The ToyBox is going to see big sales on Redbox and VOD. Yeah, it should’ve been released during the peak summer months, but it’s captivating and encompassing enough to be a certified Halloween season hit, too. Ghosts and ghouls on a haunted RV, and a trip into the desert that becomes an unshakable nightmare. The ToyBox is bolstered by fantastic performances from the cast, including Denise Richards as a grieving mother and Mischa Barton as a woman bent on revenge, and top notch production value that paved the way for this title to meet a theatrical release. The only criticism I can find is a weak action shot near the end of the movie. It should’ve seen a second or third take or a better edit in general. Now, it may seem like The ToyBox has a pretty simple solution – just walk away from the RV. But you have to remember that they crashed in the middle of no where and some passengers are injured. If they leave the shade of the vehicle, it’s possible that they’ll die from the elements before they encounter any help. So, despite the warning signs and unpredictable deaths, the family is forced to hover around the killer camper. This makes the setting a secondary antagonist, and it’s clever writing from Jeff Denton. Oh, yes. There’s a lot more going on than meets the eye in The ToyBox, and you really need to watch it to unravel the mystery.
Speaking of mysteries, I alluded to one above, but I don’t want to go into detail because it’s one of my favorite aspects of the movie and I’d like to keep it a secret. I’ll just say...The ToyBox was able to take a macabre era of American history and fit it into a horror movie in a frightening and fluid way. It was retro and it made sense. Plus, there was a dog in the movie at one point, and that merits extra bonus points from me. I don’t want to drag this review on any longer because it’s quite obvious that I enjoyed the fuck out of The ToyBox. Even though I received a free digital screener, I fully plan on buying this title when it hits DVD on September 18th. It has tremendous rewatch-ability and it’s an invigorating mix of classic movies into one modern motion picture. A gory, sweaty, devastating adventure and a one of the best supernatural horror films of the year, The ToyBox smashed my expectations and is an undeniable hit. Spread the word! Final Score: 9 out of 10.