I hate ghost stories, but The Toybox is a ghost story done right. More on that later, first l should say what it is about.
In The Toybox a family takes a road trip out into the desert country as a way to mend broken ties, but the old RV they are in is a supernatural killing machine with plans of its own.
This movie does not waste any time, we are quickly introduced to the victims….. I mean the family.
Greg Violand (“Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice“, “Carol”) plays Charles, the father of the homestead who bought this RV to help him and his two sons heal after the death of his wife.
The eldest son, Steve, is portrayed competently by Jeff Denton (“ClownTown”, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer (TV)”). The lovely Denise Richards is Jennifer, Steve’s wife. Yes, that Denise Richards, Starship Troopers, Wild Things, you know the rest.
I am happy to report that this former Bond Girl still has it! Denise is more than a pretty face, her acting is believable as a caring, yet preoccupied mother to their five year old daughter Olivia, played by Malika Michelle.
Brian Nagel (“ClownTown”, “Katy Perry: Roar”) is Jay, Steve’s beleaguered younger brother. Here is a fun fact, Brian Nagel is the brother of Tom Nagel, who directed The Toybox. The character of Jay has his vices and personal setbacks, it is clear he has taken the death of his mother very hard, so he lashes out at everyone else.
If that was not enough people to terrorize, fear not because while the family is on the way to see a historic site with cave paintings they find a car broken down on the side of the road and stop to help.
That is how Matt Mercer (“Contracted”, “Beyond The Gates”) as Mark and his sister Samantha, played by Mischa Barton (“The O.C. (TV)”, “The Sixth Sense”) come into the picture. I remembered Mischa Barton from the thriller The Basement, which I also reviewed for OC Movies. Barton’s performance is just as confident and layered in The Toybox as it was in the other film.
Let’s see, is that everyone…. oh right the family also brought along their dog Bentley. Horror fans rejoice, this RV is full of people and the movie is packed with kills.
As I said, I hate ghost stories. The reason is because most of these supernatural thrillers are nothing more than a person trying to solve a mystery with only cheap scares and no stakes that often fail to keep me interested.
Oh no, the ghost made my door close again…. could you please do my laundry next time? The Toybox is not that kind of story, this supernatural force creates a very real, physical threat in different ways throughout the narrative.
There is a mystery behind the the origins of the RV which are uncovered, but that is a minor and welcome reprieve from the horror that makes up most of the story. The same goes for the character work, there is just enough to get to know this complex family, before they get torn apart.
The director of The Toybox, Tom Nagel is no stranger to the genre. His other credits include ClownTown and many roles as an actor. The Toybox credits Jeff Denton not only as the lead of Steve but also as the screenwriter. This is his first produced feature as a writer.
Jeff Miller, Tom Nagel and Brian Nagel are all credited with story by credits. All four of those men with writing credits are also producers on The Toybox.
The look and feel of the movie were quality and matched the tone of the story. The final sentence in the movie was particularly well crafted and intense to watch.
There are a few moments of the action and rushed acting that reminds you this is a low budget horror movie, but overall the cast and crew made a premium blend of supernatural horror.
I noticed that Denise Richards kept her perfect hairstyle throughout the two day ordeal, proof that nothing could destroy those good looks.
If I had to compare The Toybox with another movie, I would say it is like Rest Stop, but better, again because there are a lot of characters to fight for their lives and much more happens in The Toybox.
I like the title and how it was an obvious metaphor, I wish the movie did not feel it needed to state what that connection was however. The Toybox is worth seeing for genre fans everywhere, once it opens of course, it will be released in the U.S. on Digital and Blu-Ray on September 18th.
Curt Wiser is the Writer/Director of Cam-Girl, as an artist he is happy to give a kind word about Denise Richards…. I mean, other movies and share them with the world.