Toolbox Murders ★★★★★

Read the full review at Diaboliquemagazine.com!


Tobe Hooper wasn’t always one of my favorite directors. Sure, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) has been a sacred object since I first saw it as a teenager, and I certainly enjoyed most else I’d seen from him, but it all felt weak compared to his savage 1974 film. There was a time when I’d even thought that the power present in that film was an accident, beginner’s luck. I was a fool and I’m here to shamefully admit it in a public forum. I didn’t start to reappraise him until I’d seen Toolbox Murders (2004), which I hadn’t intended to watch at all. When it came out I thought it was sad that Tobe was doing a straight-to-video remake of a movie that was cashing in on the success of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. How humiliating! After years of TV work, the edges had been sanded off of his films; it’s hard to deny that he’d strayed from what made his work so thrilling. At his best he was unpredictable and unexplainable, films of unbound chaos that never lull you into anything close to a sense of security. His output from the 90s, as much as I love it, could be goofy and unfocused – the opposite of unpredictable and unexplainable. Toolbox Murders, however, is explicitly brutal and repulsive in a way that Hooper hadn’t attempted since the early 80s.

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