The Toybox – USA, 2018 – reviews

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‘Vacations can be deadly’

The Toybox – aka The Toy Box – is a 2018 supernatural American horror film directed by Tom Nagel (ClownTown) from a screenplay by Jeff Denton, based on a storyline by Tom Nagel, Jeff Denton, Brian Nagel and Jeff Miller. It stars Denise RichardsMischa BartonKatie Keene, and Matt Mercer.

Charles has purchased a vintage RV with the hopes of taking his family on a road trip to reconcile with his two sons, a promise he made to his wife before she recently died. His oldest son, Steve, his wife Jennifer (Denise Richards), their daughter and family dog, are excited for the excursion, however, his youngest son Jay is less than enthusiastic.

Along the way, the family picks up Samantha (Mischa Barton) and her brother, broken down on the side of the highway. Before they get them to a service station in the next town, Charles insists on taking a detour into the desert to visit a landmark and they soon get lost.

Now stranded in the desert, the unsuspecting group is blindsided by the terrible secrets they discover within the walls of the RV and find themselves in the fight of their lives…


“A haunted RV” is the extent of the synopsis provided for The Toybox, starring Denise Richards and Mischa Barton. In other words – a horror film about a possessed RV with Richards and Barton would automatically impact my upchuck reflex immediately. Talk about the horror! However, never judge a book by its cover. Wise words in this case.

Assuming many visitors to this site know the story about David Ray Parker (the “Toybox” killer from New Mexico) who built a torture chamber for his female victims before being captured and sentence in 2001 would be extremely excited to see this, well… pipe down. This has nothing to do with Parker.

Steve and Jennifer (Denton and Richards) are a couple who accompany their family (young daughter Olivia, Steve’s father Charles, and brother Jay) in a decrepit camper through the desert for a reunion and to fix the obviously strained dynamics within this otherwise tight-knit group. Typical middle-upper class folks who bicker over senseless issues, while fixing snacks and sandwiches in a creepy RV seems to be normal day-to-day life.

As expected though, the mobile home takes a wrong turn, gunning it down a dirt road in Christine fashion until they are well off the grid without cell phone access and a busted engine. Luckily, the family picked up Samantha (Barton) and brother Mark on the side of the road in a beaten down pickup truck. Sam is the mechanic but alas, she is unable to fix the haunted vehicle and panic slowly sets in. The food and water go rancid, while they sit approximately forty-plus miles outside of the closest highway.

Hallucinations set in, jump scares burst, and predictable “accidents” start to flow. That doesn’t take away from the fun fact: no one is safe from the RV entity that is creeping around and taking bodies. The kill scenes are actually quite entertaining! Mangled limbs, strangulation, mauled members and even knife play!

Though Sam is the first one to feel the evilness surrounding the camper, it begins to embark on the others who finally visualise this ghost from the past and learn his deadly killing spree intentions. The Toybox may even convince people that Denise Richards and Mischa Barton – when faced with a hideous demise – are actually a joy to watch on film now! It’s a nice Friday night family gathering with a little fright hidden behind every corner. Caveat emptor!

Meredith Brown, MOV!ES and MAN!A

Other reviews:

“The kills might not be absolute carnage but when the first few deaths occurred I sat upright and began to pay attention. I didn’t expect the film to be quite as brutal as it was towards the end either! The effects look good, and whilst its not balls to the wall blood shed, the bloody violence rounds an already solid slice of horror off nicely.” Beyond the Gore

The Toybox is bolstered by fantastic performances from the cast, including Denise Richards as a grieving mother and Mischa Barton as a woman bent on revenge, and top notch production value that paved the way for this title to meet a theatrical release. The only criticism I can find is a weak action shot near the end of the movie.” Horror Society

“Borrowing from the far superior “possessed vehicle” vehicle (yes, I intended that double use), Christine – The Toybox is filled to the brim with bland performances (a few exceptions), the usual serial killer crap and zero characters which we’ll come to root for and love.” Horrorfreak News

“When the horrors of the haunted, murderous RV are at their peak, her portrayal of the terrorized Samantha reminded me of Dee Wallace in Cujo […]  My only complaint is that I wish the entire film felt as self aware and fast as the last act. There were a lot of funny, self referential moments that happened one after the other…” Morbidly Beautiful

“Barton, unsurprisingly, comes off best, easily the most convincing and doing better than the story even deserves while Richards just goes off the rails. While most horror movies are meant to be taken with a grain of salt, nearly nothing about The Toybox makes any sense, which in itself would be fine, except there’s not much else about it to make it any fun to watch.” That Moment In

“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.” Voices from the Balcony

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Cast and characters:

  • Denise Richards … Jennifer – Scary Movie 3; Valentine; Starship Troopers
  • Mischa Barton … Samantha – Ouija House; The Basement; The Hoarder; Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard
  • Katie Keene … Ghost Girl – Inoperable; ClownTown; Union Furnace; Last Girl; Lost Lake
  • Matt Mercer … Mark
  • Carolyne Maraghi … Mary
  • Brian Nagel … Jay
  • Jeff Denton … Steve
  • David Greathouse … Robert Gunthry
  • Greg Violand … Charles
  • Andrew Staton … Carl
  • Trevor Butcher … Dave
  • Ryan Pilz … Crime Scene Investigator


The Toybox had its world premiere at the Texas Frightmare in May 2018.

The movie opened in Los Angeles on September 14th. On September 18th, the film became available nationwide on Blu-ray, DVD and Cable and Digital HD.

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