Review: THE TOYBOX (2018)

ToyBox Theatrical Poster

I’ve seen films featuring all manner of haunted dwellings and items, but as far as I can tell THE TOYBOX is the first time I’ve encountered a haunted RV. And that surprises me because once you think about it, it’s a natural idea for a film.

Feeling the family has grown apart since his wife died Charles (Greg Violand CLOWNTOWN)buys an old RV and plans a trip to bring them back together. Steve (Jeff Denton AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION), his wife Jennifer (Denise Richards WILD THINGS, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH) and her young daughter are looking forward to the trip, Steve’s wayward brother Jay (Brian Nagel) not so much. They pick up stranded motorists Samantha (Mischa Barton THE O.C. THE BASEMENT) and her brother Mark (Matt Mercer THE MIND’S EYE, CONTRACTED) along the way.

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A shortcut turns deadly when the RV crashes itself in the middle of nowhere. They all find themselves stranded, and caught between the scorching desert heat and the supernatural threats in the RV.

Director Tom Nagel (CLOWNTOWN) is one of four credited writers, three of whom have other roles in the film. The fourth Jeff Miller has a long list of credits that includes DOLLS, INOPERABLE and THE RUSSIAN BRIDE. There’s a lot of experience involved in the team behind THE TOYBOX and it shows. The film is very well made and good looking. The cast all give good performances. The script works well as a haunted house film. And that is where the film somewhat falters.

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THE TOYBOX often feels like a typical ghost story pushed into an RV. The progression, machinery with a mind of its own, TVs suddenly showing people what they don’t want to see, etc. Even the reveal of the land yacht’s origins and the origin of the haunting have been done before. Many times.

I’m not saying it’s a bad film. It’s a fun ride with some neat jump scares and a couple of “Oh Shit” moments. But it takes what could have been something very original and turns it into a mash-up of INSIDIOUS and CHRISTINE. It’s certainly enjoyable, but not everything it could have been.

THE TOYBOX will open in Los Angeles at Laemmle’s NoHo 7 on September 14th for a week run. On September 18th, the film will be available nationwide on Blu-ray, DVD and Cable and Digital HD.

Jim Morazzini

Movie buff, gym rat and crazy cat guy