Toolbox Murders (2004)

If you lived here, you'd be dead by now.
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Toolbox Murders - If you lived here, you'd be dead by now.

Almost everyone likes Tobe Hooper, right? I mean, this is the fucking genius that gave us The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist - what's not to like? Even his campy horror films like The Funhouse and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 were pretty damn entertaining. So when I was spending a productive night on the couch, flipping through the latest FearNet offerings, I thought there was no way to go wrong with this Toolbox Murders

Wow - was that the wrong assumption. This movie is a god damn convoluted mess.

In Hollywood, the young teacher Nell Barrows (Angela Bettis) and her husband, Steven (Brent Roam), move to an old building called Lusman Arms. It was built about 60 years ago with financial backing from the movers and shakers of the day, but rumors about occult happenings and other weirdness result in investors pulling their money, leaving the builder to finish the project himself. He then mysteriously disappears.

Fast forward to present day. The dilapidated building, littered with strange symbols and missing rooms, is undergoing renovations when the couple moves in - and that's when the weirdness & disappearances start. And the confusion. And my anger.

See, apparently, the building's designer was "born into death" - he was born days after his pregnant mother had died. So I guess when that happens, the logical thing to do is to grow up and design a crazy building with the sole purpose of providing you with immortality. That's what all those crazy icons plastered around the building are for! They're a spell! What spell? WHO KNOWS? It's not important! Why would a person want a spell that bound them in the same building for eternity? WHO CARES? Look what he did with the nail gun!! WHHHHHHHHEEEE!

So when the building starts undergoing renovations, it changes and disrupts "the spell". The Killer (named Coffin Baby, for the unusual manner of his birth) has to put a stop to it by killing the residents - probably because asking them nicely to stop wouldn't have made much of a movie. So one by one they're dispatched with tools used in the renovation. Why? I dunno. They were handy? He's trying to make a point? They couldn't come up with a better name for the movie & had to tie it in somehow? WHO CARES!!! HE DRILLS HER HEAD LOLOLOLOLOL. Then it just starts getting down right silly.

First - the killer. Does this look scary to you?

Duuuuuur I haz a hammur
Duuuuuur I haz a hammur

Some weirdo dressed all in black, wearing what appears to be a black ski mask. Ooooooooo scarrrrrrry. Now let's talk about the effects. For the budget of this movie, I'm not expecting "OH MY GOD HOLYSHIT DID YOU SEE THAT?" effects. But I am expecting when the killer goes to viciously kill a woman by bashing her brains out with a hammer, he doesn't look like a limp wristed fairy swatting a particularly icky bug. Or when decapitating someone with a chainsaw, I would appreciate the MINIMUM amount of effort to try and convince me those are real people being killed, and not a giant doll.

Wait! It gets better!!!

Somehow, with ALL these renovations and a complete gutting of most of the building, no one EVER found the killer's 5 story townhouse built within the building... or found any bodies, despite the fact the building seems to be STUFFED with literally HUNDREDS of corpses from decades of killings. And despite the fact that the building's wall are SO paper thin, you can tell what position the neighbors are fucking in, you don't SMELL ANY of these hundreds of bodies in numerous states of decay! Now, WHY are there hundreds upon hundreds of dead bodies in the building if renovations only recently started? BEATS THE FLYING FUCK OUT OF ME! Maybe it's part of the spell. Maybe he's bored and someone should have just gotten him an Xbox so he could scream at 10 year olds on Live? We never find that out either. And why are they all mutilated in different ways? Why is he injecting blood into his face? Does he need their parts? Is it some new fad he read about in Cosmo while going through his victims mail? Nope, don't know that either! We also never find out how no one noticed all these people missing, or never managed to draw a parallel that the last place these people were seen was this building. Maybe it's another jab at California's cops for being unable to string these cases together? Or maybe Tobe was so toked up when making this, he didn't care about loose ends. Regardless, this movie has more holes than Paris Hilton's vagina.

The part I don't get is all these fantastic reviews I see about this movie, proclaiming that it's Tobe Hooper's return to the top of the horror chain. Was I watching the same movie as these people? Am I just so fucking stupid that I'm missing some major draw here? I see the acting, the story and the atmosphere praised and I can't help but swing and miss at all three. Mainly because THERE WAS NONE TO ANY OF THOSE TO BE FOUND. Look, I'm a fan of 70s slashers and 80s splatter as much as the next person. And let's be honest - a good hunk of the classics in those eras didn't always make total sense, or tie up every loose end. But they had charm, a good story, personality, atmophsere - usually a combination of those things. This had none of that. It was a dark, nonsensical, ridiculous mess.

I think that's the part that pisses me off. I've seen a lot of shitty movies. I've seen a lot of 'meh' independent films, and some that are down right laughable. Had I not know this was Tobe Hooper, I would have assumed it was in that category. But this was TOBE FUCKING HOOPER. He should know better than to release crap like this, and I really hope he's looking back at this and feeling ashamed. I know I am, and all I did was watch it.
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Categories: Slasher Movies

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