Toolbox Murders Review
Toolbox Murders introduces us to Nell and Stephen Barrows (Angela Bettis and Brent Roam resp.) who move into a dilapidated apartment block, free from the restrictions of living with parents. Once inside they find out that all is not well inside and that just about everyone has an axe to grind with someone else or are just plain creepy. Trapped with no money to afford a different abode, the Barrows must make do with the rather poor lot they have. Matters take a turn to the gruesome when the first victim dies of the incurable “being beaten in the head with a clawhammer” disease. So starts the eponymous Toolbox Murders...
Ahh, yes. The classic horror flick. It has been so long since I have seen a movie that is so pure to its clichés and subject matter. Toolbox Murders is, for all intents and purposes, as pure a slasher horror movie as you are going to get. Based on a 70's effort that I haven't seen, this re-make is certainly full of the unnecessary, over the top, violence slasher movies thrive on, but more on that later.
Toolbox provides several story arcs which, murder mystery style, allows just about everyone in the whole building to be a suspect of the Toolbox Murders. An effective means of distracting the viewer from some narrative gaps, perhaps, but these small asides lack any real depth, adding more confusion than contentment. That isn't to say they aren't enjoyable, though, as a webcam based gag plays very well indeed. It's just that these character building stories don't seem to integrate as well as they might.
Interspersed between these comparatively mundane side-stories are some truly imaginative scenes of unabridged death and mayhem. That violence starts very early on in Toolbox is interesting. It's as if the movie knows it isn't a character piece and just wants to get to the gore leaving no time to understand the characters or the situations they are in. A work colleague said, after I told him I got Toolbox to review, that “...it's a load of nothing about nothing much, really.” From a certain perspective I can understand this point of view as logic isn't so much thrown out of the window but tied to an RPG and fired out of the front door as you are plunged head first into a dark world of DIY surgery. Angle grinders drills and bottles of acid are all used to imaginative, if gruesome, ends providing a horror content will satisfy any self respecting fan of this genre. Others will be scratching their heads wondering, along with my work colleague, if the whole movie will be tied together at some point.
The answer is that there doesn't really need to be a story in a slasher movie: the violence is the story, and the more unrealistic or absurd the action, the more enjoyable, if that term can be used, the movie becomes. In that respect, Toolbox is a roaring success, and deserves to be watched.