Tobe Hooper, known for such classic as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist, decided to take his hands on an obscure slasher called The Toolbox Murders. Released in 1978, Toolbox Murders is this sleazy boring pseudo mystery-thriller that was cashing in on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and strangely enough came right before the movie Halloween. No one ever thought this movie would be remembered, remembered to be remade. Now 26 years later, Tobe Hooper of all people came upon developing the redo for this. To be honest...I thought the movie was okay. Maybe back then it grew on me but now it's not really all that memorable. Though at least it's better than the original.
So let's get down to business. The Best Parts: the suspense, the kills, and the awesome performance by Yours Truly, Angela Bettis.
So the Toolbox Murders remake, not really a bad movie but it could've been better though.
The Story: Having just move into the historical Lusman Arms Apartments in Los Angeles, Nell and her husband Steven try to get acquainted to the new environment when strange things start to occur. Spending mostly alone due to her husband's long hours at the hospital, Nell begins to hear weird noises from the other room. Not only that, residents from the apartment start disappearing, including a good friend of hers named Julie. This causes Nell to investigate but what she finds is something truly disturbing.
The only three characters I could focus on was Nell, Julie and Steven, everybody else was either red-herrings, walk-through, or just random characters who get killed at every second.
So the only character who has the most development is Nell herself, who is the eyes and ears of the story, practicing her amateur detective skills.
Played by the ever so talented Angela Bettis, who's yet again finds herself in another horror remake, Newlywed Nell is trying to adjust to her life at Lusman Arms. As her husband works at night at the hospital, Nell has to spend alone at the strange apartment, listening to the constant bickering of her neighbors, the creepy noises coming from the ceiling, and also having to deal with the weird residents of the apartment. Through all these troubles, she soon develops a bond with one of the residents, Julie, usually discussing their fears and insecurities. But once Julie goes missing, Nell must muster the strength to find her and figure out the mysteries that is hidden within the walls of Lusman Arms. Nell is by far the only character I was invested in throughout...the rest of the characters...not so much.
Julie played by Juliet Landau, was basically just a plot device. Juliet Landau does what she does best with what she was given playing one of the normal apartment residents that Nell is able to bond with, but there isn't much time with the character to focus on other than being a catalyst once Nell knows about the deep dark secrets of Lusman Arms, becoming essential to the plot when her character goes missing.
Brent Roam as Steven Borrows was....there I guess. There really wasn't much development on him either other than being Nell's workaholic husband. Cute guy though.
The real meat of the story is the suspense and kills. Tobe Hooper, who is of course responsible for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is a master at this. The deaths are incredibly brutal and gory and is handled way much better than the 70's version which is tepid and suspense less. Once that moment comes, it comes in unexpectedly, which I always love in a horror film.
Speaking of unexpected, there is a twist at the end of the film and yes, there always seem to be a twist in these horror remakes nowadays:
So it turns out that Jack Lusman, the owner of the apartment, was an occultist who experimented in Science and Witchcraft, having the symbols decorated around the apartment walls as a spell along with Nell uncovering disturbing old photos of torture chambers and bloody corpses.
The killer is soon to be revealed as a monster refer to as "Coffin Baby", which is probably the result of a conjured spell.....
I thought the twist was kind of far-fetched and sort of ruined the movie. It started off fine until this revelation switching the tone completely and also having a way to make the killer typically invincible. I knew they were trying to do something different in this version because in the 70's original as soon as the second half kicks in, it becomes this boring played-out thriller drama. It would at least give the filmmakers a step up from that but the whole mystical/supernatural element was just to much to handle, which left a possibly for a sequel that was in development hell for a while.
The Verdict? Definitely choose this over the original, in what I like to describe as a forgettable mess. Although this version has it's flaws, it still makes up for an entertaining gorefest, especially for the competent direction of Tobe Hooper and a strong performance from Angela Bettis.
My Last Word: Skip the original and go for this, which would make good popcorn fun.