With the Horror talent bonded in its confines like director Tobe Hooper, actress Angela Bettis (from the stunning "May") and even some smaller rolls like Juliet Landau and Sheri Moon Zombie, okay that last one is a stretch, "Toolbox Murders" should have been a shoe in for good low budget Horror. Too bad for most of the film it feels like amateur hour rather than the sleek slasher it should have been and its cheesiness and nonsensical plot leaps tend to bog it down.
Nell and her husband just moved into an old apartment complex as he establishes an medical residency there at a hospital close by. Too bad the apartment they moved into is having some troubles with a supposed cursed history and residents that are disappearing (read: being slaughtered) by a mysterious man that kills them with tools from the toolbox. Now Nell has to solve the mystery and stop this supernatural killer before he gets to all of them.
Tobe Hooper hasn't been the same guy for years as a director and "Toolbox Murders" is just one more misstep added to his recent resume. Although he is one of the few saving graces for this poorly acted and written pseudo-remake with some clever shots and slick camera work, he still seems to be missing a few things that were needed to get this baby off the ground. It seems like more often than not he was battling some seriously poor supporting cast, oddly plotted script, and obviously low budget to give us his best.
The biggest hindrance to this film actually working as it should have, is its rather nonsensical script. Things in this movie happen a lot that never make sense. Most of the supernatural elements are very poorly explained and when they are, are done with such cheese that its easily looked over (he was born from his mother as she lay in her casket? What the fuck does that mean? Why is that relevant?!). Anything to do with the killer seems filled to the brim with cliche's and never makes it out of 'slap the forehead in disbelief' zone like how he leaps through a window in an apartment at one point when the window is six stories up. More often than not when you watch this film you'll curse your own logical reasoning for ruining these moments for you.
"Toolbox Murders" is one of those films that easily should have and could have succeeded with the talent it had, but succumbs to a poorly thought through story and script and some awful acting from most of the cast. There are tons of details that never seem realistic and even the supernatural side of it is poorly developed. Luckily, it is somewhat of a return to form for Hooper, even if it is hit or miss.
BONUS RANT: One of the foundational plot points in this film is that the killer lives in these blank spaces within this building that are big enough to house entire rooms. One of the other foundational plot points in this film is that the building is undergoing renovations. Yet NO ONE, NOT A SINGLE SOUL looked at those blue prints (that Nell later on easily figured out) and saw that and made mention of these blank spaces? Really?
Written By Matt Reifschneider