Toolbox Murders (2004)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
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Overall Rating 57%
Overall Rating
Ranked #3,907
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Connections: The Toolbox Murders

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Angela Bettis
Angela Bettis
Brent Roam
Brent Roam
Marco Rodríguez
Marco Rodríguez
Rance Howard
Rance Howard
Juliet Landau
Juliet Landau
Review by Chad
Added: April 03, 2005
As the movie starts up, we find Daisy Rain (Sheri Moon) returning to her room at the Lusman Arms apartment complex from work, where she meets up with a serial killer in her room. The killer bashes her head in with a hammer, sending blood and chunks of brain everywhere. Downstairs, we find out that Nell (Angela Bettis, of May fame) and Steven Barrows (Brent Roam) have just moved into this apartment, and aren't too happy with the condition that it's in. Byron McLieb (Greg Travis), the manager of the building, explains that they're currently doing some renovations to the place, but that things will be back to normal soon. In the meantime, he explains, they can get the building's handyman Ned Lundy (Adam Gierasch) to take care of any problems that they may run into. Apparently, the Barrows' family fell for this spiel... yes, some renovations are taking place in the building, but the place is a complete dump regardless. However, the couple sticks around so as not to break their lease and lose the security deposit, which turns out to be a horribly wrong decision on their part. A few days later, Nell hears some screaming coming from the apartment down the hall. Thinking that someone is being murdered, she quickly calls the police... only to find out that it was an actor practicing for a movie role. The next day, she hears her hippie neighbor Saffron Kirby (Sara Downing) screaming in agony. The cops are called again, but this time, there's nothing to be found that would explain the screams, and Saffron is missing. The police start to believe that Nell is crazy, and Nell is insanely embarrassed over two false alarms in as many days. So, when her jogging buddy Julia Cunningham (Juliet Landau) shows up missing, Nell decides to find out what's going on on her own. She gets a bit of help from the elderly Chas "Jazz" Rooker (Rance Howard) and the webcam voyeur Austin Sterling (Adam Weisman), but will it be enough to solve the mystery? Or will Nell wind up as just another victim for the masked serial killer to slaughter?

This movie is a remake of 1978's The Toolbox Murders by only the loosest definition of the word. While the two movies share the theme of murders via tools taking place inside of an apartment building, everything else has been changed up in this version. There's a supernatural twist thrown into things, the motives for the killings have completely changed, and even the identity of the killer himself got twisted around. All opinions of the movie itself aside, I personally find that "making a remake" of a classic film, slapping on the title to gain some attention, and then completely changing everything about the movie itself is pretty lame. Dawn Of The Dead '04, anyone?

However, the movie itself turned out to be pretty good. While it's not quite "the scariest movie in ages", nor is it "a return to Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre roots" as many have claimed it to be, it was definitely entertaining and had a halfway original theme going on it. Funnily enough though, it did share one more thing in common with the original, though I sort of doubt that this was intentional. The movie starts up with a bang, showing the murder of Daisy in an absolutely brutal scene that would make gorehounds shed a tear of joy. Then, the movie slows down for the next half hour, with nothing much going on other than very small storyline advancements and too much character development. I'll say it again - character development is important in horror (or any film), but we really don't need to know every last detail of a person's life to make those ninety minutes work out. Give us the gist of the character, throw in some quirks, and then get on with the damned movie.

<Heavy Spoilers>
Later on in the movie, the whole supernatural element comes into play. It turns out that the various symbols found around the building were part of a spell that kept Coffin Baby (Christopher Doyle) alive... however, he needs blood in order to keep the spell going. When the renovations kick into gear, the changes to the building are coming dangerously close to destroying the symbols, which would in turn destroy the spell and kill Coffin Baby... so, the murders kick into high gear in an attempt to prevent the renovations. This entire aspect of the movie was corny as hell, and could have definitely been improved with a more realistic revelation. Admittedly, the storyline turned out to be pretty entertaining as it was, so it wasn't a complete bust.
<Heavy Spoilers>

In order to have the DVD released with an R-rating, all of the overly gruesome scenes have been cut from the movie itself... however, they can be watched through the unrated bonus features. If you want to see them presented in the movie itself, you'll need to pick up an import copy. I'm not going to go into a tangent about today's movie standards here, but this was a horrendously stupid choice on the part of whomever put together the DVD. Just release it as unrated, and keep your audience happy... making us jump through menus in order to see the scenes in their entirety is complete and utter horse-shit. The scenes themselves are great and are sure to please the gorehounds, but seeing them while watching the movie itself would have been leagues better.

Overall, it was a good movie and will most likely please the horror fans, but it's far from the revolution in horror films that so many have made it out to be. If you go in expecting the scariest, sickest film of our generation, you're sure to be disappointed... however, if you go in merely expecting a good horror, you probably won't be too let down. 7/10.
Ginose #1: Ginose - added 12/26/2005, 10:26 PM
It was... well... decent. Quite frankly no re-make is ever as good as the original. This movie wasn't scary, it wasn't mysterious, and it wasn't action packed. It was fairly good and added alot of (non-needed) action to the original. It wasn't really that good, but easily a 6... the filming was cool and Sherri Moon never ceases to be hot... so 7/10.
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added 10/16/2006, 04:33 PM
This was awful -- one of the worst attempts at a remake I have ever seen. Tobe Hooper should not be allowed to direct films anymore, and this is the perfect example as to why. He doesn't know what's scary. Certainly not this. 1/10.
George Snow #3: George Snow - added 08/31/2008, 03:27 AM
I didn't know that was Sherri Moon. I bought a copy from Europe long before it was released in the US, because I'm an Angela Bettis freak. I enjoyed it. The gore was all right, but Bettis is perfect as always.
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