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Toybox, The - Maverick Entertainment Group - DVD Print E-mail
User Rating: / 0
Written by Jay Creepy   
Thursday, 27 October 2016


Directed by: Paolo Sedazzari
Written by: Paolo Sedazzari
Produced by: Simon Mason, Michael Guest
Cinematography by: Roger Eaton
Editing by: Simon Mason, Ian Seymour.
Music by:Miguel d'Oliveira
Special Effects by: Samantha Lavery, Michaela Taylor, Darren Robinson, Sasha Lewis, Darren Marshall, Rudy Nausch
Cast: Claudine Spiteri, Craig Henderson, Elliott Jordan, Peter Ellis, Suzanne Bertish, Chris Terry.
Year: 2005
Country: UK
Color: Color
Language: English
Runtime: 1hr 21mins

Distributor: Maverick Entertainment Group

Every now and then you come across a film which makes you shake your head violently. A sort of film which has a ton of ideas bouncing about but simply doesn't deliver on them all. As far as low budget films made in my country, there's a track record of hits above the amount of misses. There's an underground network of horrors and street gritty gangster flicks (plus so called 'urban' gang stuff) which are filmed cheap and put out with passion. Unfortunately, The Toybox falls over a middle rail. Frustrating plans and some decent acting abilities all get buried minus ceremony.

We're in Norwich, the great English countryside. We are introduced to who will be our central characters when they were younger, Berenice and Brian. They read and act out weird and wild fantasy stories, plus play sinister games such as Freddie's Gone Missing, which doesn't end well. It is revealed that Berenice may have deep powers and is possibly a re-incarnation of a witch. Cool.

The kids have grown up, years have gone by and Berenice insists her boyfriend, Conrad, drives out to visit her family. The family consists of her parents, her Gran, her Grandfather's restless spirit, and a now demented Brian, who looks like a hybrid emo and hooligan. The car passes a man and his dog. The dog's eyes glow red. Conrad happens to whisper the name of her childhood toy. Berenice absolutely flips out at him.

After an awkward introduction to her family, especially the bad tempered Brian, they settle in. Conrad suddenly says: “Something terrible happened in this house.” quite out of the blue. Meanwhile the man with the dog fast approaches and Mother asks about their sex life. So Brian still follows the legends, via animations as he tells his sister about the gory myths he's discovered since she left the house. He's discovered a website all about what they used to immerse themselves in. Of course, Berenice is the re-incarnation of Celeste the witch. (As they talk look at the cameraman bobbling around in the mirror behind them.) The tale of Celeste is rather grisly and is said to have happened right there many years ago. Afterwards, Berenice plays with an amulet whispering incantations.

Dad is a wannabe Russ Abbott Saturday night eighties joker. Brian is a band member who writes about “doom and gloom” whilst Mum is basically a sexual predator. A day in the life. Brian takes the couple to his garage on the grounds which he is made into a studio. He also has a cage of rats which he plans to set loose that weekend when other members of the family arrives. Conrad doesn't look too amused by this news. Berenice talks about their grandfather wanking and his stash of porno mags which Brian got blamed for. Back in the house, Conrad has a vision of a clown-faced bloke (who looks like Brian) in the toilet wearing braces and like a full on boot boy!

Okay, so by now you feel like you're on a runaway train and every carriage has a disjointed idea on its journey. You're getting rather interested because the pay-off after all this combined madness must be unique. It all appears to centre on a toy box, a large chest where Berenice used to stuff Brian when they were kids, and of course the amulet which her Gran warns her about. Throughout the film, messages have been posted containing pictures of clowns and the telephone answer machine has recorded a monotone voice singing the theme to Russ Abbott's Mad House programme. Brian steals the amulet, Conrad wants to get out. Brian totally cracks when his sister leaves again with her boyfriend. It's all totally and utterly insane. On top of things, Gavin -- his co music maker -- tells him he's done with music. Brian takes him to the garage and leaves afterwards alone and solemn. Soon he's under attack from a stranger and becomes possessed, going for his parents. Brian believes he is Jake the Midfolker, a killer from his stories. Berenice returns to a very quiet house...

It all becomes Brian vs. Berenice in a showdown of quivering and twitching acting, plus screams. All supernatural elements are ejected, aside from the spirit of Grandfather. Wasted is the build-up of Conrad's abilities, and the whole point of the amulet is pointless. The Toybox morphs into a standard slasher flick, all said and done, colored by a lot of darks, blues and greens as lights.

On the positive side, at first the lack of emotions in the cast members make you shy away, but gradually it adds to the leaden sense of doom which envelopes the proceedings. It's a disturbing mosaic of childhood fears, games and psychotic personalities. Nobody is sane or average and it's cool to see real snow instead of stupid fake fluffy polystyrene particles.

To be fair, it takes a bit of getting into but once it grabs you it doesn't let go. The colossal build of all bizarre elements add to the sense of 'fucked up' until writer/ director Pailo Sedazzari abandons all his decent work in favour of a bland concluding act. Damn it! It's annoying!

The cast work very well with the script and Elliott (Eastenders, Benidorm, Community) Jordan totally excels as Brian and his slow descent into crazy. Older members of the cast, Peter (An American Werewolf in London, The Bill, Bad Girls) Ellis as the Vicar and Suzanne (The Hunger, The 13th Warrior, Rome) Bertish as the Mother both inject a great sense of professionalism into a very low budget creation. Unfortunately, as I said, it all means nothing in the end, but it's worth a watch if you sit down expecting nothing at all.

Maverick Entertainment released The Toybox in 2007 for overseas (the UK DVD faded away) along with a substandard commentary by the director and producer, plus trailers for many other Maverick releases.





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 AUDIO: 1 
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 Aspect Ratio: 2:35.1 16x9
 Region: NTSC R1
 Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo 5.1

 – Trailers
 – Director and Producer Commentary


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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

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