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The Toybox More at IMDbPro »

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22 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Enjoy the visuals, forget the story!! An impressive debut..

Author: tom-1806 from United Kingdom
29 May 2006

Often, the mark of a good film is that you're still thinking about it for days afterwards...

The Toybox has, more than anything else, a strong visual identity. Credit to both the director and DOP for creating such a sickly visceral quality, especially throughout the third act, that delivers on the unsettling quirks and occasional jump-starts in the first two. There's no doubt that this movie has style and energy to spare, and yet as the visuals come together stylistically, the narrative slowly becomes more and more disparate that it unravels into several unexplored and unresolved avenues. It's a rare situation, but the film suffers from a surplus of good ideas, with the script juggling too many plot strands and is ultimately unable to catch hold of them all come the climax.

However, for a while at least, the intrigue of the back-story, and the marriage of ancient folklore and modern-day sensibilities holds the attention. Unfortunately, the post-production ADR hasn't been kind to the performances, and some of the clunkier dialogue sometimes grates and strains to convince. In fact, it's most often the case that the more senior members of the cast manage to hold the script together and create some memorably uncomfortable scenes (Conrad at the family dinner is a stand-out for cliché-fish-out-of-water fun).

There are more themes here that would arguably be more interesting and effective to follow through on if explored fully - and some pretty dark elements at that. Obviously, there's the witchcraft element, but beneath that lies a suggestion of an incestuous desire, which goes on to manifest itself in jealousy and rage. Elsewhere, the relationship between the Grandfather and his Grandchildren, and the shameful secrets they share, offers another interesting angle. Whilst the implications of these sub-plots open up several avenues ripe for exploration, they get lost amongst muddied stories of folklore, murder and possession (story-strands that also get lost and confused).

In essence, there are several other (and better) films trying to get out, which unfortunately have to compete and jostle for attention amongst the numerous other story lines involved in the film overall. Some of the more hokey elements aren't successful either, although sometimes, the visual quirks land a sucker-punch that the audience won't be expecting. But whilst the script sometimes lack coherence, the visuals smack of certainty, assurance, and a general comprehension of how to provide the requisite shocks and scares.

Regardless of the script's shortcomings, the brutal and primal climax is cranked up for all the visceral and visual carnage it's worth. There are some beautifully scenic moments, which make the most of the snow-laden fields and stark environment. Yet somehow the director successfully creates the impression of a brooding claustrophobic malevolence in contrast with the landscape shots which result in some genuinely disturbing and affecting moments.

As a calling card to the British film industry, the film makers have a lot of talent to offer, even if the source material sometimes lets down the assured camera-work and flair. For every miss (teddy's glowing red eyes, clowns in the toilet) there's a hit (literally and brutally, but to describe it would give to much away!) Give these boys a budget and source material to match their obvious talent and there's a definite treat in store. And although the plot is largely forgettable, the film has such a strong identity that it will linger in the memory long after the final credits have scrolled...

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26 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

The best hand held camera work I've ever seen

Author: j-phillips-1 from United Kingdom
21 July 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a very original slice of black comedy and horror, with good acting and excellent production standards.

But what I was really blown away by was the hand held camera work in the last third of the film. If Toybox had been made by a major studio, the execs would have reigned the film-makers in, but instead they really pushed out the envelope here. I would say it's the best hand held camera work I've seen - since Festen.

I am training to be a camera operator myself and it was inspiring to see something so different and exciting. What cameras did they use? I'm dieing to know. Overall a very good film.

I would have liked to seen more rats in the finale, and overall more blood. Maybe it was budget limitations, or an artistic decision - the less is more view.But if that was true all great films would only be a few minutes long. Come on guys give us more blood and rats next time. More is more.

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25 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

It's a madhouse!

Author: saskiamontague from United Kingdom
13 March 2006

I didn't want to see this at first - my friend described it as a British low budget horror, which was a right turn-off.

But I was pleasantly surprised - whereas most horror/slasher movies don't care about subtleties and characterisation, this was at the heart of what the Toybox set out to do. This film isn't your bog standard slasher, you need to pay attention and concentrate.

There was a fair amount of laughter in the theatre at the start of the film. But before anyone got too cosy, things starting turning nasty and weird and the audience weren't sure whether they should be laughing. This is was when the film got really interesting.

The acting was exceptional - but special mention should go to Suzanne Bertish and Heather Chisen who turned in marvellous performances. Also the photography was impressive, it certainly was a lavish production and didn't look low budget.

There have been a lot of British horror movies coming on the scene lately. Do we have a movement in British horror going on? I hope so. And certainly The Toybox is among the best of the present bunch.

This film played at the Rex in Berhampstead a marvellous recently renovated art deco cinema and it turned out to be a fab Sunday night out. Although I think the Q&A session afterwards was a bit of an own goal. These things are always rubbish, just a load of half-jokes and sycophantic laughter.

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21 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Straight to the heart of darkness

Author: theterribleone87 from United Kingdom
21 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film opens and at first not knowing what to expect I was a little dubious, the opening seems like a made for TV film which was putting me off but in the end it worked so well as it contrasted with the descent to chaos which occurs at this films climax. The camera work becomes more and more erratic and panicked, going to hand held it really gives a sense of claustrophobia to the film, a feeling I guess is quite integral considering the fact that I'm pretty sure the reason Brian goes mad is hes locked in a box for hours as a child.

The scenes towards the end in Brians shed were some of the most atmospheric I've ever seen and even compared against larger budget films they hold their own, they reminded me in particular of the climax of "Apocalypse now". Maybe that was deliberate, I don't know but the film is full of literary references that adds to the strong story telling theme running through out the film and creates a great depth to it.

The writing is similarly brilliant. Not knowing what to expect allowed me to be taken down every twist of Sedazzari's tale. I was left unable to tell where the truth began entirely and at what point the brother and sisters imagination left. Fairytale and psychological horror are entwined every step of the way to create a definitely original film that holds many surprises.

The dialogue is blunt and honest, in all to many films characters speak as though they've been rehearsing their lines, Sedazzari's characters speak like people speak, with no flair, they speak directly as if they're thinking what to say as it happens and the outcome is all the more believable for it. The characters are also complete and even though many appear as somewhat stereotypical you are given reason as to why each is the way they are and by the end you sympathise with all of them and forgive them all for their laws, they are all victims of each other. All their faults belong to the hothouse effect of living together and no one is left predictable or one sided, none of them are to blame for being the people they are.

I suppose if I should eventually round this up and come to some form of conclusion or judgement I'll leave you with this. At a point in time when their seems to be a new horror film released every week each as placid and unoriginal as the next not to mention predictable and shallow "The Toybox" is a breath of fresh air that I think "Brand New" films should carry on and if they go the way they are carve a name out for themselves.

Definitely worth the journey!

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14 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Solid British

Author: brady-k
29 November 2006

The Toybox was a really good watch. It bought together visual tastiness with a juicy narrative and, at the risk of this sounding like a junior cookbook recipe, created a creamy dose of well needed British horror.

I especially like the inclusion of animations withing the film. It helped to create a certain tone that was held throughout.

There are some random moments like unexpected clowns appearing from nowhere but this helps to control the films unique identity by leaving some questions unanswered.

The movie includes some quality acting from the likes of Suzanne Bertish and although not all of the other actors could keep up this pace none created a noticeable let down for me.

I can definitely recommend this for a decent watch

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12 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

First rate modern British horror

Author: guykward from United Kingdom
5 September 2006

From the very beginning the film has you in its morbid and twisted grip. A story of myth and legends set against the solitude of the Norfolk countryside, it has all the hallmarks of a very modern British horror. This film snaps along at a cracking pace never giving you a moment to gather yourself together.

Elliot Jordan, who plays Brian Usher, has real screen presence that you simply cannot take your eyes away from him, and you'd be advise not too as his character descends into what proves to be a fatal spiral of madness and carnage for all concerned. Brian's sister Berenice and is played by Claudine Spiteri, she brings a real sense of glamour to the rather stark and bleak surroundings. More importantly for me Claudine has something 'other worldly about her', she positively resonates on the screen. But for me the show is stolen just ever so slightly by the vampish Madeline Usher, their mother and played by Suzanne Bertish with consummate skill and with such reality I would find it hard to say where the smouldering, drinking mother ends and Suzanne begins – she simply inhabits the role and makes it her own.

The Direction is assured and the editing never once allows the pace to wander. Considering this was shot digitally it has nothing other than a film feel. THe colours are lush and vibrant. The snow tinged exteriors are wonderful.

Watch out for the dinner party scene, it's brilliant. Here we have Berenice's timid boyfriend Conrad played perfectly by Craig Henderson. it is a typical family meal of bickering but it feels like a car crash happening with poor Conrad becoming the object of Madeline's desire. As the drink flows and Madeline's blouse plunges you feel nothing but pity for the shy Conrad, to the extent that you will want to cover your eyes with discomfort, the tension here is palpable. Family gatherings, we've all been there!

I would certainly recommend this film you certainly won't be disappointed.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Chillingly Close to the Cut - ( Don't let this one pass you)

Author: Munggi from United States
19 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Toybox is a superrealistic psycho-thriller that chillingly depicts how the effects of severe familial dysfunctionality combined with a possessive influence of the dark snaps the mind of a young impressionable man. The tale is told through stark counterpoints: Manipulative Jezebelian femininity couples with loveless male Ahabian tyranny and wimpishness. The holiness of Christmas and a village church is offset by dark machinations and violent murders. The sinister developments are suffused and lightened by comico-grotesque symbolism and events, almost hyperrealistic shots of nature's unadulterated beauty, as well as the redeeming sensitivity and pure good-naturedness of one of the characters. Evil is contained when the church and law-and-order come knocking on the door. Filters, lighting, camera movement sensitively enhance the moods. With incisive acuteness, the actors capture mankind in its highly grotesque and destructive moments.

A good first work showing that the makers have fine observation skills, as well as a plethora of film tricks up their sleeves that demand to be explored further. A must for those who love satire and the study of the dark and disturbing human behavior.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Toy Box is filled with garbage (or rubbish in the UK spirit)

Author: Jason Maxwell from United States
13 August 2013

This is my first review. I felt it necessary to warn people of just how f***ing god awful this piece of trash is! I watched it cuz of the positive reviews, guess we were watching different flicks... I love horror movies and enjoy British entertainment but this was sooo far from the realm of achieving any entertainment value whatsoever!!! This felt like a horrible film student flick with no sense of keeping a story together at all. The camera work was good as others have mentioned, but i don't care how clean it looks if the story makes less than no sense. Save yourself 80 mins and keep looking...


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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

I want an hour and twenty minutes of my life back...

Author: xtehxsammehx from United States
26 August 2008

Wow. So my boyfriend and I went to the movie store to rent a film. I like dumb horror movies, so I browsed the variety of terrible films they had to offer while he went off in search of Michael Moore's 'Sicko'. So then I found the worst of all of them (as I would soon find out). It looked good on the cover and the description on the back seemed decent enough. The fact that there was an IMDb quote on it as a review was proof that it would be bad in a good way. So the next night, we put it in the DVD player and from the first five minutes, we were so incredibly confused.

The movie is utterly incoherent, with badly placed time-jumps from past to future that leave you asking a major 'WTF?' The plot has no sort of coherent story -- other than the vague allusion to a local myth about a murder, but this only actually comes into play in the movie in the last twenty minutes of it. So pretty much for the first hour you have this: random, confusing time jumps; incoherent plot; parents who don't age; bad acting; bad dialogue; a boy who magically changes hair colour; and a host of obnoxious characters for you to get bored with!

The movie moves so slow that it's a chore to actually sit there and watch. I'd rather be scrubbing the toilets, honestly. Don't bother with it.

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8 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

So dumb it physically hurts to watch

Author: alannon19 from United States
24 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I only watched this because I saw a couple of good reviews for this, so I was expecting at the very least a half-way cheesy movie. Toybox doesn't even deliver that. There are so many problems with this flick, that I don't even know where to start, so I will list a couple of main issues (Once again, spoiler warning. Just read them, it'll save you the trouble of watching this later).

One, this movie starts out with, and often mentions, the mythical folklore of both Celeste Noir (A witch, who the main character claims she is the reincarnation of), and the mid-folker (or something like that, an evil man with a big smile who cuts people open with hooks and sells their innards in pies). I liked that, it was a cute concept, anything to do with pies is simply enjoyable. But then you watch the movie and it's all about this idiot girl and her boyfriend (And what was the deal with him? Was he psychic? Did he have powers? Why did he keep seeing visions that even the so called 'Witch' didn't notice??), and them meeting their insane family. Not really insane, they just argue a lot. That's what most of this movie is, arguing, and they barely touch on the supposed myth ever again except in a couple of confusing scenes that you can't make heads or tails of.

In one scene, Berenice (The main witch-related character) wanders off and does some sort of ritual by candle light. It seemed rather important, but absolutely NOTHING happened after she did it, it just wasted more of my time.

And who the hell was that guy with his dog? You see him walking towards the house from the very start of the movie with that evil red-eyed dog, and then he finally gets there and gets killed? What the hell?? Was he the mid-folker? Was his dog possessed? Did someone kill the dog? They never really showed that. Also, any scene involving the Vicar was completely pointless and only served to weakly explain the lame ending. It was like they had all these interesting character ideas and they all went nowhere! The boyfriend, who obviously had some sort of powers but never explains them. The grandmother, who appeared to also have some sort of witch powers, but never used them. The Vicar, who...OK, never mind, there really was no point for his existence at all. And then there was Berenice and her stupid amulet. Could she really do magic, or did she just use it to reflect light and blind people? This was a complete waste of time, and the only reason I give it two stars at all is because a) Berenice is kinda cute, and b) It mentioned pies. Save yourself the money of renting this and dear god don't even think about buying it, unless wasting money is a new fad.

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