Friday, December 3, 2021

One Long Family Squabble: The Toybox (2006)

The Toybox (United Kingdom, 2006)
Rating: *
Starring: Alexander Abadzis, Russell Barnes and Suzanne Bertish

The flying fuck of fuckery did I just subjected myself to?

As youngsters, siblings Berenice and Brian Usher face imaginary foes, tell grim fairy tales and act out fantastical adventures in their cozy little cottage home down in the countryside. Whenever things go South (like accidentally making a smoothie out of a beloved pet hamster, I shit you not), Berenice locks Brian up inside a toy box while she fixes the mess. 

Years passed and Berenice is now in college. She's about to go home for the Christmas holiday, tagging along her boyfriend who is understandably nervous about meeting her family for the first time, and the stay is, well, terrible; her jokester of a father is thinking of retiring soon, her mum is starving for intimate contact of the hanky-panky kind, granny's obsession over her dead husband adds to the awkwardness of it all and then there's Brian, now older yet still into the fantasies he and Berenice played as children.

For the next hour, The Toybox slow burns itself with a hell lot of family quarrels interjected with flashbacks of the siblings' misadventures, talks of being an incarnation of a witch, awkwardly acting like said incarnation of a witch, red-eyed black dogs, some guy who may or may not be a serial killing mid-folker who chops up people for meat pies and a few seconds of a random clown in a toilet. The whole thing just reeks strangeness even whenever it's not edited loopily or done as a mid-2000s 2D computer animation and I'm sure as shit my patience was tested to the point I can feel myself zoning out to a better plane of existence, like, more than once. 

The main beef here is that Brian, ever so emotionally dependent on his sister, is left feeling betrayed and lonesome when Berenice brought home her boyfriend. After stomaching so much of the family's bullshit through out the years living with them, the lad eventually snaps and embarks on a killing spree which is, sadly for us who are wishing for some excitement out of this excrement, mostly made up of offscreen murders. As if making us sit through all the dysfunctional family drama crap and warped-up visuals weren't annoying enough, the fact that this movie has nothing worthwhile to show for in the end is just a whole new wad of low. 

The Toybox simply fails in every aspect you could think of; the story is incoherent and random for the sake of random in not a fun way, the writing is atrocious and the acting is nothing to go home about. There were some interesting ideas played around but the execution itself is just overplayed with so much surrealism that it's too chaotic to enjoy, cluttered further with a surplus of other shenanigans going about like magical amulets, psychic visions, a grandfather's ghost milling around, vicars confused for zombies and that stupid clown in the toilet. Why is there a fucking clown in the damn toilet?!

What could have been an interesting psychological horror ruined by its approach of throwing things at random on the wall and working with what sticks, The Toybox is just so problematic it physically hurts. Vile grot in film form and nothing else.

1 male killed offcamera
1 elderly female killed offcamera
1 male hacked with a hook
1 female killed offcamera
1 male had his throat cut
1 male stabbed through with a drill
Total: 6

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