The Toolbox Murders

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Thirtysomething couple Nell (Bettis) and Steven (Roam) move into a dilapidated apartment block. While Steven slaves down the ER, the out-of-work Nell begins to notice things are amiss. What are those strange markings on the masonry? Who is that strange old geezer? And why do her neighbours keep disappearing?


The Texas Chain saw Massacre was made a very long time ago. However, its unsettling atmosphere, primal terror-stabs and pitch-black humour have rightly earned Tobe Hooper’s debut

a ‘timeless’ tag. Given the standard of his work in the three decades since, that movie’s triumph has to be seen as a happy accident, with further proof provided by Hooper’s latest, which plays like it was made years before Chain Saw.

If Massacre was the masterwork, you could imagine Murders as the teenage tinkerings that came before: the gore’s more explicit, the shocks coarser and the dark humour more of an immature ‘hyuck’ than a malevolent smirk. All of which is hardly surprising if you consider this is a remake of a daft 1978 video nasty, and that Hooper’s clearly revelling in all the trad-horror trappings.

He happily goes overboard with the murder-weapon theme (we witness death by nail gun, by power drill and even by acid powder), and amusingly plays on our seasoned horror-gorging expectations. But while offering some trashy fun, it’s probably best appreciated viewed through beer goggles and across a living room strewn with half-eaten pizzas.

A self-consciously grubby and silly slasher that’ll be lapped up by gorehounds, but which really belongs on the rental shelves.