19th Nov2020

‘Toys of Terror’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Kyana Teresa, Georgia Waters, Verity Marks, Dayo Ade, Saul Elias, Zoe Fish, Muriel Hogue, Lauren Marshall, Max Nelson, Ernie Pitts | Written by Dana Gould | Directed by Nicholas Verso

Dana Gould, stand-up comedian, writer on The Simpsons, and creator of the awesome Stan Against Evil, pens this Christmas-set killer doll film produced by Blue Ribbon Content, the company behind the Banana Splits horror film and Critters Attack!

Toys of Terror sees Zoe, her brother Franklin and their family move into a secluded mansion just before Christmas. While the adults focus on renovating the place, the bored kids find a toy chest hidden in the attic, and are delighted when the toys inside magically come to life. But bizarre events soon begin to take place – events that threaten the family’s lives. As the special day dawns with gifts piled under the tree, the body count rises and the blood starts to flow.

Opening with a rather effective prologue that sets up the ominous nature of the film, Toys of Terror is, surprisingly, more of a kid-friendly horror than the marketing (or that prologue) advertises. This is almost like Puppet Master by way of The Monster Squad; a killer toys movie – note I said TOYS not dolls, because it’s not just dolls that come to life here, even the video game system is possessed by evil – that scrimps on violence and gore but is just scary enough to frighten more sensitive, younger, viewers.

Given that this is more teen-friendly than I expected, a lot of the frights are of the jump scare variety – odd sounds, strange reflections, ghostly apparitions appearing behind folk. You know, the usual cliches in haunted house flicks. Though here they’re toned down somewhat to not be TOO frightening for kids… Though the first “death” in the film – around the one hour mark – where someone is impelled on broken wood – is probably pushing the limit. To be fair, this film follows such a familiar ‘not too scary’ format it even pilfers the “spider in the popcorn” scene from Arachnophobia, another “teen-friendly” horror flick!

Of course, these are the “toys of terror” so we also get numerous stop-motion animated sequences that reminded me of Full Moon’s famous killer doll franchises, by way of more simpler kids animation – a perfect storm of fun and fear. Though as a character ‘Uncle Monkey’ is a remarkably scary choice – though aren’t monkeys, real or toy, always terrifying in horror movies?! Oh and did I mentioned said toys have a musical number? Again reflecting the child-like nature of toys and also how these miniature killers look so innocent to the kids – even if these toys are anything but!

Cliched? Yes. Stereotypical? Definitely. But Toys of Terror is still a lot of fun. Especially if you have a penchant for these kinds of killer toys movies like I do!

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