May 5, 2021

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‘Toy Box Killers’: Movie Review

Once upon a time, a boy and a girl met. Together, they liked to torture, inflict pain, and elicit screams.

‘Toy Box Killers,’ not to be confused with the real-life ‘Toy-Box Killer’ David Parker Ray (I made that mistake), is an independent horror film from Demonic Assassin Films starring Jon Prophet as Daniel Burns; Elin-Margareta Nordin as Samantha Tooms; Emma Johannesson as Monica Johnson; Sharon Henry as Detective Sergeant Teri Logan; Jag Singh as Detective Carl Roberts; Toni Valerie as Jessica; Adam Forster as Jake Jameson; Ken Stamp as Detective Inspector Jones; Steve Hilli as Gino Russo; Pamela Hanson as Emma’s mother, Mrs. Johnson; and Gengiz Hasim as Emma’s father, Mr. Johnson.

The film follows Burns and Tooms, AKA: the ‘Toy Box Killers,’ as they stalk and kidnap victims to appease their love of killing.

The opening of the movie focuses on the duo’s first murder in their infamous “toy box” and the subsequent discovery and investigation of the body.  This scene had issues with quick edits that made the film seem disjointed at times. During the investigation, the camera would cut back and forth between the medical examiner and detectives as they each delivered their lines. At one point, I became convinced that the trio was not in the same place at the same time due to never actually seeing them on screen together.

Instead of building on this one murder, the movie quickly introduces Monica and Jess, who make the mistake of inviting Samantha out to the club with them for a girls’ night out. The two are kidnapped by Samantha and Jon before being taken back to the “Toy Box.” One of the girls is soon bludgeoned to death, but a reveal shot of the corpse fails to show any sign of trauma.    

We then have our medical examiner and detectives talking about this newly discovered body (not sure how this happened so fast). We are again treated to the same back and forth shots, further convincing me that their scenes weren’t filmed at the same time. 

The film next sets up that the hunter will soon become the hunted, as it’s revealed that the duo kidnapped the wrong girl.

Locked up in a room (that I’m pretty sure was the same setting as the club), Monica is able to escape after Samantha leaves her alone. She manages to get a hold of a knife that Samantha left behind and cuts herself free (why she left the knife, I have no idea). After Monica’s escape, Jon and Samantha decide to go into hiding.

From here, the movie seems to go off the rails, as each scene is just about the killers separately murdering person after person, with the police always somehow showing up to investigate the crime scene despite it never being established how they got there.

The movie ends with the duo having to face the consequences of their actions, but with the fate of one of the killers being left a mystery.

In the case of independent films, the sound, special effects, and film quality are often sacrificed due to a limited budget, so the true success of the film is measured by its script and the performance of its actors.

This film unfortunately failed to deliver on the script. It felt like the film was attempting to draw from 1994’s ‘Natural Born Killers’ which starred Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis as a team of psychopathic serial murderers. At one point in the film, Jon Prophet’s character is even wearing round lens sunglasses similar to Harrelson’s character, Mickey Knox.

The issue with the script was that everything felt so rushed. The duo would murder someone, dump their body, and then the police would instantly show up. Except for the maid in the hotel room, it was never shown how the bodies were discovered so quickly.

Also, the random killing spree in the middle of the film felt so out of place. Why would a serial killing team that establishes themselves as the “Toy Box Killers” just start killing anyone anywhere? This is where the film really tried to dip into ‘Natural Born Killers.’

Then there is the overacting of Elin-Margareta Nordin as Samantha Tooms. Did her character have Tourette’s syndrome? Why was she constantly yelling at people that she was going to murder them?

In a 2014 interview, ‘The Movie Crypt’ actor Bill Moseley (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, The Devils Rejects) stated that, when playing a psycho, you “play it like you’re the only sane one in the room. If you try to play a psycho like, ‘hey, I’m a psycho,’ it’s going to look stupid.”  

I questioned the movie’s logic so many times: why wouldn’t the police have surveillance on the “Toy Box” after Monica escaped? Even if she doesn’t remember exactly where it is, you still know where she was picked up, so canvas the area.

Why wouldn’t the police circulate the suspect’s photos after they were identified?

And I’ll say it again, how did the police keep finding the crime scenes so fast?

On a scale of 1-5, I give ‘Toy Box Killers’ one out of five stars. There was, unfortunately, nothing redeeming about the film. It wasn’t even able to cross the threshold of being so bad, it’s good.

I think the ‘Toy Box Killers’ can go back in the box and stay on the shelf.