Monday, April 10, 2017

Film Review: Toolbox Murders (2004)

Toolbox Murders (Review)
United States/2004
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Due to a severe lack of suspense and originality, the film often feels uninspired. Even worse: it can be downright boring."

The tenants of a historic Hollywood hotel are terrorized and murdered by a person with a toolbox.

Toolbox Murders is a remake of the 1978 film The Toolbox Murders. Aside from sharing a similar concept—a serial killer murdering people in an apartment complex—this film bears little resemblance to the 1978 original. The plot follows Nell Barrows (Angela Bettis) who, along with her husband, move into a new apartment. Due to the history and affordability of the apartments, they are surrounded by actors and a few scoundrels. Anyway, most of the film follows Nell as she meets her neighbors and spends time with them while her husband works. When Nell's not with her neighbors, they usually die horrendous deaths. It really starts to differentiate itself towards the final act, where it becomes a bit more interesting and engaging, The ending was okay, too.

Toolbox Murders is a disappointing movie, though. I really enjoyed the original film, which I watched for the first time recently. I didn't go into this film with high expectations—I never do when I'm watching remakes or adaptations—but it still disappointed me. The first hour of the film feels very uninspired and dull. There are some brutal moments and some of the scenes are genuinely interesting, but most of it is forgettable. The final act spruces things up, but it still not incredible or effective. It's just faster and gorier. I think most of the boredom comes from the boring cast of characters. Although it tries to make these people feel eccentric, the characters are painfully boring. Their 'eccentric' qualities just makes their tedious qualities stand out more.

The acting didn't fare much better. I'm usually a bit lax when it comes to acting, but it's all pretty... bad in this film. Although the original had its problems, most of the 1978 cast runs circles around this one. Angela Bettis is at least tolerable as the leading lady. Most of the supporting cast is stiff and awkward. They sounded like they were reading off a script 90-percent of the time. The film wasn't shot poorly, but you can tell the movie had a low budget. Some of the special effects were great, some were mediocre. Still, fans of practical effects might find something to like here. The film was written by Jace Anderson and Adam Gierasch, and it's directed by Tobe Hooper. There was clearly an idea behind the writing, but it never goes anywhere until the end. Hooper's direction is severely lacking, too. It feels like he didn't put an effort into this film.

Overall, Toolbox Murders is a mediocre movie. It has some special moments, the plot can be interesting at times, and there are some brutal death scenes, but it doesn't offer enough to fill the 90-minute runtime. Due to a severe lack of suspense and originality, the film often feels uninspired. Even worse: it can be downright boring.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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