The Film (1/5)
After her sister is murdered, Samantha Forester (Chauntal Lewis) goes to the creepy apartment building where the shit went down to investigate for herself since the detectives (Brian Krause and Clifton Powell) on the case aren’t making any progress. Samantha is abducted by the cannibalistic killer, Coffin Baby (Christopher Doyle), and is taken into the bowels of the building. Locked in a cage for weeks, she is starved, dehydrated, mutilated, forced to eat human flesh, mentally abused, and generally inconvenienced. With only a ghostly little girl and an old lunatic (Bruce Dern) for company, all hope seems lost but then Samantha challenges Coffin Baby to a game of Mattel’s Kerplunk to win her freedom.
Toolbox Murders 2’s working title was Coffin Baby and that pretty much describes how much fun this is to watch. The film is broken up into chapters for every day of Samantha’s abduction and it feels like it’s in real-time. Here are some sample days for you. Day 7: Samantha drinks water off the floor. Day 8: Samantha eats roaches. Day 9: Samantha pukes. Day 10: Coffin Baby brings Samantha a water bottle. How awesome does that sound? In between all of these moments are long stretches of nothing. Just long and lingering shots of Samantha in her cage. Okay, so maybe there’s some other stuff too.
The best moment in the film is when Samantha is so hungry from her days in captivity that when Coffin Baby feeds her the flesh of one of his victims, she ends up enjoying it. This happens while the woman whose flesh is their lunch is alive and watching them eat her leg. And the rest is just unpleasant hostage stuff, Samantha’s hallucinations and flashbacks, and gore setpieces.
This entire film rests on the shoulders of Chauntal Lewis who, according to IMDB, had to drop out early from the Carmen Electra School of acting to work on this film. I’m not saying that a likeable lead could have saved this movie but holy shit, it’s impossible to care about Samantha and her plight. The rest of the cast are completely dreadful as well with only poor Bruce Dern showing up and out-acting everyone even when he has nothing to do in his extended cameo.
To make matters even worse, the editing on Toolbox Murders 2 is seizure-inducing (probably) and filled with loud stingers to punctuate the relentless tedium. I like the look of Coffin Baby’s makeup and the funhouse villain performance from Doyle but it’s wasted on this garbage. Any creativity from the stop-motion credit sequence, experimental flashback structure, and some of the over-the-top kills are just flushed down the toilet with the rest of the film.
Audio Video (4/5)
Toolbox Murders 2 is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with a 1080p transfer that looks great. I almost thought about complimenting the lighting for a second there but meh, I’m over it. The DTS-HD 5.1 and the DTS-HD 2.0 audio are both mixed very well but you won’t care, I promise.
Other than this film’s trailer, there’s not a single extra on this disc. I really wanted to hear from the cast and crew on this one. No, I’m not kidding. I needed something, anything about Toolbox Murders 2 to put my battered mind at ease. Thanks for nothing!
Unless you’re absolutely desperate for wall-to-wall gore and torture sequences, avoid this film at all costs. I feel really bad that Shout! Factory owes so much money to the mafia that they had to release this on Blu-ray or else they’d be wearing concrete shoes at the bottom of a lake. I absolutely hated this movie and none of the splatter or bad coroner jokes could turn it around for me. Somebody please send director Dean Jones the memo where it says to put “torture porn” and the nu-metal aneurism music video editing to rest. I highly recommend the offbeat and way more fun original The Toolbox Murders from 1978. I even enjoyed the flawed but very decent 2004 remake which has five crew members in common with Toolbox Murders 2. Not included in that crew is Tobe Hooper who was probably in Ras Al-Khaimah making Djinn while this Coffin Baby was being born.