THE TOYBOX Review – A Killer RV That Carries Dark Secrets…and Denise Richards

Starring Denise Richards, Mischa Barton, Jeff Denton

Written by Jeff Denton

Directed by Tom Nagel

As you can probably tell from the poster, The Toybox, directed by Tom Nagel (Clowntown), embarks into darker territory than you might expect out of a killer RV movie. A certain degree of camp should probably accompany a premise like this but the story here is actually surprisingly vicious and morose at times, delivering a tone of inevitable and inescapable doom. In other words, this family vacation resembles The Hills Have Eyes a lot more than National Lampoon.

An estranged, aging father (Violand) tries to patch things up with his two sons – one who can’t seem to get his life together (Nagel) and the other (Denton) who hopes to use a family road trip to grow closer to his wife (Richards) and little daughter (Michelle). They pick up two unlucky souls on the side of the road (Barton and Mercer) who come aboard only to be terrorized later. Unfortunately, they’re traveling through the desert in a used RV whose previous owner used the interior for his own amusements that may have gone a little bit past the point of normal recreation. The engine suddenly and mysteriously blows a gasket, stranding everyone in the middle of nowhere. This would be a tough situation in general but it becomes even more dire when your mode of transportation is secretly TRYING TO KILL YOU.

Mischa Barton, who has quietly been doing a lot of genre work, is the first to catch on that something else is afoot when she begins to see visions of blood-drenched victims trapped in limbo inside the RV. Not only is the RV messing with the heads of its passengers, but it also chooses to physically maim characters who assume they can fix the engine and even run over one or two. Unexpectedly, some truly tragic events send The Toybox down a much more disturbing path that feels out of place with such a silly premise.

Denise Richards is fine here as the mother but her character is forced to go to such great depths that it doesn’t ring true, either because of her performance or because the story beats are overly dramatic to begin with. Richards is absolutely playing against type here which is refreshing, and it’s great to see her doing any genre work again at all. However, Richards might have wanted to save her energy for a Lifetime movie that may have complimented the acting she’s doing here. To be fair, she may have related to this material because she could challenge herself and play a mother and may have shied away from an ass-kicking ghost killer role. That, of course, is what I wanted to see but I’m not reviewing my head cannon version of The Toybox here.

There are some sudden, memorable kills in this, however, and the ultimate reveal is somewhat compelling even if that final explanation is maybe a little too unsettling. There’s a level of abuse in the finale that caught me off guard. There’s a fantastic idea at the end connecting the physical with the metaphysical that works, I just would have liked to see it fleshed out and developed a little more. Like it or not, The Toybox is now a part of the long tradition of killer car movies but it’s not parked alongside classics like Christine, The Car, or even The Hearse. You may want to hide this one behind the house until you feel like taking it out for a joyride.

  • The Toybox


Vacations can be deadly.

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