Toolbox Murders (2004)


I’ll admit “The Toolbox Murders” will never win any awards in the horror field, but as a piece of pure mindless horror with gore galore, I dug it a lot simply for its schlock value, and so-stupid-it’s-good fun. When Nell and Steven move to Hollywood after Steven, a doctor gets a job at the local hospital, their apartment building is less than luxurious, and Nell has an instant uneasy feeling about the vibe of the building and has no idea there are murders going on all around her. She can hear and feel its bad atmosphere despite the landlord’s boasting that it’s just a Hollywood landmark, but once she begins suspecting her friends being murdered around her she delves into the shocking underbelly of the landmark and discovers its grizzly secret.

I dug this sonofabitch simply for its schlock value and it was that element that really sold me on this movie. Angela Bettis plays the role pretty well with a lot of charisma and attempted fright at the disturbing goings on. All the players in the movie are basically just set up to die grisly deaths and it was a lot of fun. The first death in the film is of the utterly scrumptious Sheri Moon who makes an all too short appearance as the first victim of the story, and watching her appear for only ten minutes was enough for this to win me over. The deaths are pretty kick ass I have to say, and it was great to see people get killed the old fashioned way. And if you think the title alludes to what the killings will inevitably be, then you’d be right. There’s plenty o’ gore galore here with drillings, nail guns, hammers, and, saber saws. The film is utterly ridiculous at times. Too ridiculous to just suspend my disbelief or logic from and the characters in this movie make the stupidest moves of any movie I’ve seen in years.

The movie is just so utterly derivative, and takes too much elements of its atmosphere from Dario Argento, and caused me to roll my eyes as it mercilessly ripped off Argento. The movie just doesn’t work as a tongue-in-cheek slasher film. It seems the first half of the film strives to be a really serious slasher film with a tense story, and then by the second half just throws it all away becoming very campy and often times really stupid. Worst of all, the characters in the story are idiots and you pray for them to die, be it the door man, the repairman, or the building manager. All the murders happen while they’re in the elevator, but no one ever thinks of taking the stairs, not even the heroine. And while the killings are all quick and painful, as always the killer creates a death slow enough and elaborate enough death giving time to the heroine to escape from, or for the hero to creep up and attack the masked killer in the climax.

It’s just so utterly ridiculous to watch. What’s worse is there are these giant lapses in logic that make no sense. Was the old man being kept alive by the magic of the building? What happened to the young neighbor after he helped discover the hidden room? Why does the movie allude that the person under the black ski mask is one of the tenants in a whodunit mood when really there is no surprise under it at all? Don’t be fooled. How did the boy tap in to Julia’s web camera? If she’s casting herself on the net, why didn’t anyone else see her getting killed? How did the killer rig the houses while the tenants were in them? Why didn’t anyone notice the murder victims had gone missing? Why would Luzman number the apartments inconsistently (103–gap–105) in the first place?

If he was such an architectural genius why didn’t he number them normally but with large gaps in between them? Why has no one but Nell noticed the gap in the apartment numbering? Are the two officers in this movie that constantly appears throughout the story the only cops in Los Angeles? It was hilarious to see them pop up every other scene, and they have to be the worst officers I’ve ever seen not checking the apartments whole vicinity, and basically becoming slow as hell. I just couldn’t bear the sheer brainlessness of it all. Anyone expecting an honest to goodness straight-laced horror film will ultimately leave you disappointed, so it’s good to approach this with a sense of humor as the film lays on the cheese and camp that really does invoke a laugh or two, and a lot of the antics had me rolling in tears, especially the utterly hilarious climax. The movie does boast ridiculous elements to its story and logic, but it’s so bad it’s good.