Barrow, a young woman, rents an apartment with her husband
in the Lusman complex, a 1940's building under renovation.
The walls are thin and she hears many strange noises. After
a call to the police proves to be a false alarm, she is seen
as a busybody by the landlord. But the truth is she is worried.
Two woman from other apartments have gone missing; unbeknown
to her violently murdered by a madman using hardware tools.
With help she discovers that the same apartment number is
missing on each floor, meaning there is a large area the others
are not seeing. The building's blueprints show a number of
mystic symbols which create a spell which keeps the killer
there, in a grim representation of life...
Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspired a lot of horror films,
one of which was the original Toolbox Murders. So it
seems rather strange that Tobe Hooper should be remaking a
movie which was influenced by his own Chainsaw masterpiece.
the additional features, it seems the idea here was to reinvent
the horror genre, the effect of which had become muted by
real-life tragedies in the news. However, in my opinion it's
not enough simply to depict a series of violent and gristly
scenes. We have to care about the characters, and the plot
has to move us along. These killings are well-choreographed
using old-school techniques, and you have to commend Hooper
and his team for avoiding the easy trap of CGI to cut corners,
but there's simply not enough of any significance going on
the rest of the time.
many ways this film also carries a baggage of clichés
which quite frankly are unacceptable in this day and age.
Potential baddies queue-up for recognition: a biker, a creepy
handyman, an argumentative caretaker and a long-term resident
living in the past. Many classic mystery writers have said
that it's against the rules and certainly a cheat to have
the killer be somebody not seen as an ordinary character during
the plot. I'm not sure any writer should adhere to rules,
but in this case it does treat the watching audience with
a modicum of scepticism.
No shame is displayed in using a Jason Vorhees-like killer.
Inexplicably, Nell goes back to the apartment alone when it's
all over, instead of travelling to the hospital with her husband.
She knows the killer is missing, so shouldn't be surprised
when he smashes through the window to attack her (a trademark
of the Vorhees character). And like the final scene of John
Carpenter's Halloween, the killer is shot repeatedly,
falls from a window and is missing when they look. Killers
just never stay dead these days; Michael Myers has a lot to
This two-disc set is nicely packaged in a slip cover. Extras
include: Widescreen, 5.1; a commentary by Tobe Hooper and
the two writers; a commentary by the producers; a theatrical
trailer; biographies and film notes. Disc two contains: EPK
(a short behind-the-scenes); a stills gallery; and a feature-length
documentary called The American Nightmare. This last
extra is extremely good, exploring the connection between
fictional film horror and real-life horror depicted by the
news (much of it soul-destroying). Some classic horror films
are discussed by such luminaries as Tobe Hooper, John Landis,
David Cronenberg, John Carpenter and Wes Craven. This feature
alone is worth an extra point.
Toolbox Murders in no way progresses the genre to the
next level, as some might have you believe, but it is an above
average horror flick.
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