Plot: After the death of his wife, Charles (Greg Violand) feels a strong need to reunite his estranged family and he has a bold idea, to load up his loved ones and head out on a road trip. The open road seems like a great chance to catch up and bond, while also giving everyone a break from their usual lives. His son Steve (Jeff Denton) has joined the expedition, with his wife Jennifer (Denise Richards), daughter, and even the family dog, while second son Jay (Brian Nagel) is also present, but has little to no desire to be involved. Charles buys a weathered, but functional RV to transport the squad through the desert and he has mapped out some roadside attractions, which he hopes will help break the ice a little. En route, the family encounters Samantha (Mischa Barton) and Mark (Matt Mercer), who have broken down on an isolated stretch of road and hitch a ride to the next town. As time passes, some odd things begin to happen and while it starts as just a window slamming shut for no reason, it soon becomes clear some kind of dark presence is on this road trip as well.
Entertainment Value: The basic premise here is a familiar one, as we have seen movies about possessed cars before, but the shift to a possessed RV makes it seem fresh and at least to me, much more ridiculous. The tone is dead serious in The Toybox however, so don’t expect a wild, outlandish kind of ride here, though there is some unintentional humor at times. This is especially true toward the film’s start, such as the ultimate thrill of a window slow closing on its own and other small, silly moments that earn a laugh, rather than a scare. The cast takes the material seriously and no one goes over the top or chews up scenes, so the performance are sincere and for the most part, quite good given the material. Denise Richards and Mischa Barton provide a little star power and both turn in solid work here, so this isn’t one of those cases were a well known performer half asses it in a low budget indie. I wouldn’t give out awards, but at least they showed up to work, unlike a lot of celebrities who take roles in these kind of movies. I do wish the movie would have embraced the craziness of a haunted RV, as the film is never scary and doesn’t run with the creepiness it hints at, so we are left with kind of a middle of the road horror movie. Even so, genre fans will likely appreciate the blood and nasty tone, while b movie folks will like the unintentional humor that creeps in.
No nakedness in this one. I know what you’re thinking, an RV is a pleasure palace that demands flesh, but no such luck this time around. There is some nice bloodshed at times however, including a nice neck impalement that produces some fun grue, as well as other smaller, but still worthwhile bursts of crimson. The movie is more atmosphere than violence driven, but The Toybox manages to sneak in a few nice kills once the shit hits the fan. Given the dark tone however, I have to admit I expected nastier, more gruesome violence from this one. The dialogue doesn’t shine here, but it does what it needs to do, so no complaints. I did appreciate the dysfunction that bubbles up at times, so I wish there was more banter and toxic interactions, but the dialogue serves its basic purpose overall. In terms of craziness, the premise and dysfunction earn a point for The Toybox, but it takes a mostly serious approach and doesn’t aim for shocks, so it never feels over the top or out of control.
Overall Insanity: 1/10
The Disc: Skyline Entertainment has released The Toybox on Blu-ray in a rock solid visual presentation, as you’d expect from such a recent movie. The image is clean and clear, with better than average depth and detail, while colors reflect the warm, but mostly natural visual design involved. In the bonus features department, we have an audio commentary with cast & crew members that sheds some light on the shoot, as well as a behind the scenes featurette and the film’s trailer.