Jennifer and her family go on a summer road trip in a used RV with her husband’s estranged father and brother. Along the way, they find Samantha and her brother, broken down on the side of the highway. After driving into the middle of nowhere, the RV takes on a mind of its own, crashing and stranding them in the scorching and isolated desert. Little by little, the unsuspecting group of travelers is blindsided by the terrible secrets within the walls of the RV and find themselves fighting to survive.
If the idea of an evil caravanette sounds silly to you, we're unfortunately on the same page. The horror world is not unused to possessed, malicious, inanimate objects; the haunted house is a trope used more often than butter on bread, along with cars, dolls, idols, stones, video games, VHS tapes...the list goes on and on. The ToyBox's camper joins the list of possessed paraphernalia out for blood and ...well... blood.
The ToyBox is about as generic as a horror film gets, which in my book is not necessarily a bad thing. You know from the start what you are getting into...a mash of characters that fulfill their roles; each killed off in order likeability or star value by an evil force that is out for something-something. It's a concept that is iterated time and time again because if done well, it makes for a bit of campy fun and a few hours of entertainment.
The film follows a somewhat dysfunctional family as they set off on a journey in grandpa's new camper van. Naturally, the family picks up a couple of stranded extras for the imminent body count. Then there's the obligatory breakdown and ensuing blame game coupled with the standard mild character development, ubiquitous backstory, and interpersonal angst.
No one is particularly likable, the story is mildly entertaining, and the plot progression is slow at best. The acting feels very forced at times and disingenuous the rest. To call it a mixed bag would be dishonest...It's just a bag.
Now, I realize that I am sounding very negative, but I prefer to be realistic rather outright cynical. The film is absolutely entertaining, just not good in the traditional sense of the word. The actors make the best of what is an absolutely bizarre script — it's hopelessly melodramatic and not very realistic. Sure, a story about a possessed camper isn't going to be Shakespeare, but I expect the characters to exhibit somewhat realistic reactions to family members being murdered before their eyes, not go off on obscure personal reflections about family history and infidelity — things pretty irrelevant when your kin are being supernaturally crushed and pulverized. While the actions and reactions move the plot along and add depth to a somewhat unmemorable cast, giving everyone the emotional sensibilities of a sociopath isn't a way to build character.
The special effects were, for the most part, nonexistent. There's the matted blood and hair and a couple of other gory effects every now and then, but most of the haunted happenings are windows not moving, engines starting on their own, or a gearbox setting itself into reverse. The camper itself probably cost more than what was spent effects wise.
Where did the budget go? My guess is on Denise Richards — a smart a move as any. Seeing her name on the poster sold me on the film instantly. I'd geek a bit now but I'm sure no one is interested in my alternative website: StarshipTroopersHornyFanfiction.com. It was genuinely a pleasure seeing her back on screen and definitely added to the overall experience. She played her part well and was, for me, the most memorable part of the film.
So how do we rate this? An honest review would probably give it two starts but as a fan of campy (get it?) horror films, it an absolute five...so let's settle on a three and call it quits. It's a haunted camper killing off people who know they are riding around in a haunted camper. I'd watch films like this daily if there were enough of them — it's fun, tropey and well made. If this sounds like your cup of tea, give it a watch.
The ToyBox releases September 14th and The Blu-ray and DVD releases of film will exclusively include a feature-length commentary with director Tom Nagel, producer Jeff Miller, producer/writer/actor Jeff Denton and producer/actor Brian Nagel and a behind the scenes featurette. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.