THE TOLL (2020) Reviews and overview

   

‘Everyone pays in the end’

The Toll is a 2020 Canadian horror film about a ride-share driver and passenger who find themselves haunted by a supernatural force.

Written and directed by Michael Nader, the 4 AM Films-Always Hungry Productions movie stars Jordan Hayes, Max Topplin and James McGowan.

Plot:

It’s 1 am. Exhausted Cami (Jordan Hayes) orders a ride-share at the airport. Her driver: Spencer (Max Topplin), awkward and unsettling. Her destination: Her dad’s place in the middle of nowhere. Cami grows increasingly suspicious of Spencer’s odd behaviour. This fear gives way to full-blown terror when their car breaks down on a secluded road.

And they both realize they’re not alone – Suddenly the car comes under attack – a rock smashes through the window. Attached to a message that warns visitors must “pay the toll.” Cami and Spencer realize it’s a supernatural force haunting them: the Toll Man, pitting these two strangers against each other. Until they discover that for either to survive, one of them has to die…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

The Toll attempts to kick-start a new sub-genre of horror to mixed results. Though it employs some effectively creepy imagery and two decent lead performances, it can’t manage to overcome the shortcomings of its script, which too often likes to undermine the viewer’s intelligence. The brief 80-minute runtime and Nader’s directorial skills are enough to merit a slight recommendation but don’t feel like you have to pay this toll.” Bloody Disgusting

“This had a much more lasting impact on me as the viewer instead of the momentarily cheap thrills that come with most horror flicks. Not to say there is anything bad with a good jumpscare but I felt like this film didn’t need to solely rely on that. Instead, the dread is built up through the tension presented by our two leads and the horrific circumstances they find themselves in. In all, The Toll is a slick horror flick filled with unending twists and turns.” Nightmarish Conjurings

” …wears its influences on its sleeve, even citing a few of them by name, from The Strangers to The Blair Witch Project to a few works by Stanley Kubrick. All of these influences lead to a “everything and the kitchen sink” approach that kind of overwhelms the final act, but the two leads, the great set-up, and the overall love for the genre embedded in every scene leads to an overall success.” RogerEbert.com

“Eschewing CGI excess and editing trickery, Nader keeps things simple, knowing that you can deliver a shiver with a well-placed piece of creepy music (followed by the revelation of its source) and via a combination of the right lighting effect on some unnerving makeup and costumes; credit to cinematographer Jordan Kennington for his consistently eerie imagery.” Rue Morgue

“Jordan Hayes and Max Topplin get a tense-and-nervous rapport going, and Nader, making his first feature, springs a few cinematic tricks, like using tail-light glare to create a neon hell or the way Spencer keeps reaching for his eye drops. But when he reaches for a crossbow and metal arrow, the film gets back to basics. The Toll is an okay calling-card movie, shivery at times but too eager to embrace illogic as the language of nightmares.” Variety

Cast and characters:

Jordan Hayes … Cami
Max Topplin … Spencer
James McGowan … Neil
Rosemary Dunsmore … Lorraine
Jess Brown … Cynthia
Sarah Camacho … Mary
Thomas L. Colford … Weston
Daniel Harroch … Toll Man
Pamela MacDonald … Dying Cami
Katelyn McCulloch … Charlotte
Sharon McFarlane … Andrea
Jana Peck … Darlene
Nicole Power … Clara
Shaina Silver-Baird … Magda
Sean Sullivan … Doctor

Technical details:

78 minutes