From a story by Jeff Denton, Jeff Miller, Brian Nagel, and Tom Nagel, the screenplay by Jeff Denton and direction by Tom Nagel create an interesting film from an idea that seems ridiculous at first. The film takes all that it has and brings it together in a way that makes sense and makes for an entertaining film. The RV having a mind of its own could have easily turned into one of those cheap horror films that are a dime a dozen these days but while it’s not super expensive looking, the efforts behind and in front of the camera make the most of the idea and then some. The story is done in a way that revolves around the RV and extra characters are picked up along the road to make it more interesting and to keep things fresh. This leads to more deaths than originally thought and extra carnage is provided by way of flashbacks and visions.
The lead cast here is good with Misha Barton giving a performance that sets her apart from the rest of the cast and setting her up as the lead in an indirect way. Playing a smaller part but listed at the top of the cast is Denise Richards who plays the mom and doesn’t get much to do or say. While she is there for a reason, her part is not big enough to truly give her a chance to give a performance that gives an impact per sey. She does however do well enough with the screen time given. The trio of Jeff Denton as Steve, Brian Nagel as Jay, and Matt Mercer as Mark who all do good work but don’t really separate themselves from each other. Shortly after watching the film, separating which is which is actually not that easy as they all gave similar performances which are not bad, but also not particularly special. The cast as a whole does well, with Barton definitely coming on top.
These performances are shot with cinematography by Ken Stachnik who takes the RV and its confined spaces and sets them against the wide open desert in a way that creates a nice contradiction of sorts as the characters are stuck in a small space while also being in the great outdoors. The way this is shot gives a particular style to the film and to each the indoors and the outdoors situations. His work here helps set the tone and the mood. The way he shoots the flashbacks helps separate them from the story at hand while also connecting them.
The Toybox is a fairly effective small space/confined story brought to the screen in a way that helps add tension with all the characters stuck in one RV. While the film’s story may seem ridiculous at first, it works really well and brings forth the talent of those involved in creating a film that is suspenseful and easy to watch. The deaths are what one would expect of such a film with a twist in that they are sometimes particularly nasty and oftentimes come unexpectedly. The Toybox is an enjoyable horror movie that takes something that could have been just a gimmick and turns it into much more.
The Toybox opens at the Laemmle NoHo 7 in North Hollywood on September 14th, 2018. Get your tickets here.