I’m not going to mince words – this is hands-down one of the worst movies I have ever sat through. If you know me, you know not to take that sentence lightly as I’ve likely watched more movies this morning than many people do all year. I’m not playing this up for dramatic effect or anything like that. No, Toolbox Murders 2 is aggressively terrible from start to finish and while I love Scream Factory to death, I have no idea what it was that made them go “This deserves to be put upon the world.”
The back story behind this movie is a complete mess and I don’t want to dive too deep into it but as I understand it, apparently the original script for this movie (which was always meant to be the follow-up to Tobe Hooper’s 2004 remake of The Toolbox Murders) was completely different and then they brought in this Dean Jones guy who completely changed the script. After some disastrous test screenings, the movie was never released, though Jones did splice together the footage from it and another movie to make something called Coffin Baby. Flash forward a few years and Scream Factory, for reasons I can’t even begin to comprehend, has put together a proper release of this movie.
I saw the 2004 Hooper movie, but I couldn’t tell you a single thing about it. I don’t think I hated it by any means, but I never felt tempted to revisit it at any point. I guess this one is supposed to follow the events of that movie directly, but I couldn’t tell you for sure. So our lead is Samantha, played by Chauntel Lewis, whose sister is murdered in the opening sequence by…I guess his only real name is the Toolbox Murderer?...and then she is subsequently kidnapped and held captive in his lair that is located inside some old hotel or something. She is tortured for weeks and occasionally another person is brought in and murdered in front of her. That’s it. That’s the movie. Until the final 10 minutes when all of a sudden Bruce Dern shows up and I had no real clue what the fuck was happening anymore.
Remember around 2006/2007 when we were getting garbage movies like Captivity? Movies that relied solely on torture and showing the audience as much icky nonsense as possible without really concerning themselves with things like suspense and plot and likable characters? This feels plucked right out of that era and it easily would have been the worst of the bunch, even competing with Captivity for the crown of shit. There is nothing remotely scary here. There’s no attempts at creating tension or suspenseful sequences. A big thrill of horror movies is the chase and wondering whether the victim is going to be able to successfully get away from her pursuer. Here all of the victims are tied up the moment they are introduced so we know there is no other outcome than for them to be brutally killed. We don’t know who any of these people are, why should we give a shit? Outside of Samantha, no other character is given more than 5 minutes of screen time, with every character disappearing after their one highlight scene. It’s all just about “look how fucked up this all is bwaaaaa!” Here’s the thing though…it’s actually all pretty tame. There’s nothing here that can trump anything in the Hostel or Saw movies so they aren’t succeeding at the one thing they seemed determined to do.
Also I feel bad saying this but Chauntal Lewis is just not good here. I don’t want to say she’s a bad actor as I’m not familiar with her at all outside of her performance here, but oooooo man is it ever rough to watch her sometimes. For the most part she isn’t required to do a whole lot more than scream for help and curse, but she isn’t very good at doing either of those things and the movie almost immediately becomes a chore.
Were it not for some sort of grim fascination with the whole thing, there is absolutely no way I would have made it through to the end. Worst of all, as someone who intends to collect everything Scream Factory releases, this is now a part of my collection forever! Poor acting, zero plot, no attempts at suspense and mediocre gore that seems to be the thing they wanted to stand-out are the biggest issues but there are absolutely no redeeming qualities to this mess. Jones feels like the kind of guy who would make statements like “Oh man I may need therapy for coming up with this shit” but I guarantee you at least 2 more shocking horror movies have likely been released in the last week. Don’t ever watch this and if someone tries to make you, throw coffee in their face, run away and never look back.