Movie Review: Toys of Terror (2020)

Synopsis: A family decides to spend Christmas at an old children's hospital they are renovating into a home. When the two youngest children find a chest full of toys that was left behind, they begin to act strangely and, with Christmas Day approaching, the older members of the household are terrorized as the toys reveal their intentions.

Who's in it? The movie stars Verity Marks, Kyana Teresa, Georgia Waters, Dayo Ade, Saul Elias and Zoe Fish.

Review: I am usually the first person to give a low-budget, made-for-TV movie the benefit of the doubt, and will usually dismiss things like campy acting and weak special effects. In fact, after seeing this movie last night, I went to bed trying to convince myself the film was worth taking the time to watch. Unfortunately, after a lot of reflection, I have to say I was sincerely disappointed by what could have been a legitimately creepy film.

I will be kind and start out with some of the positives about this movie. This includes the general premise, which I thought was decent enough, the remote location and, most importantly, the inclusion of two creepy children (Elias and Fish). The last one, at least in my opinion, is normally enough to carry an otherwise crappy horror film.

Ultimately, I think the primary problem with this movie is it tries to do too much. As a general rule, less is more when it comes to horror films, especially if you don't have an unlimited special effects budget. Along that line of thought, had the movie simply kept the toys inanimate when on screen (similar to the dolls in The Boy and Annabelle Comes Home), this would have had a lot more potential. In fact, once the movie showed the toys coming to life, the movie seemed a lot more like a comedy than a horror film.

I also felt like the mom (Teresa) needed more of a backstory. She was the pivotal character in this film and the only person in the family who knew the history behind the house but, even as strange events started happening, she seemed like it didn't matter. I would have loved to see the movie dig a little more into her reason for being such a cool cucumber, even after witnessing paranormal activity herself. I kept hoping for some sort of twist that revealed she was the person who started the curse after losing a child, but that didn't happen.

Also not helping this movie was the ending. Most horror films have loose ends, but this one seemed to make no effort to tie any of them up, including how (or if) they planned to explain the dead bodies to the police. I have to tell you, I was more than a little irritated by that, especially since it was Christmas and at least one victim had a family waiting for him. Horror movie or not, that is a crappy way to end a holiday movie.

Final Opinion: Had it not been for people getting hurt/dying, I would say this movie is more of a comedy than a horror film. Ultimately, it isn't scary, it isn't funny (at least not intentionally), and it isn't inspirational. There's no reason to add it to your Christmas movie list as a result.

My Grade: D


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