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Nicholas Verso
Kyana Teresa, Georgia Waters, Verity Marks
Writing Credits:
Dana Gould

Just before Christmas, young Zoe, her brother Franklin and their family move into a secluded mansion with a dark past.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/16x9
English Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 1/19/2021

• “Toys of Terror Come to Life” Featurette
• “A Terrifying Weekend” Featurette
• Trailers


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Toys of Terror (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 7, 2021)

Will fans confuse 2020’s Toys of Terror with 2013’s Toy Story of Terror? Probably not, though I suspect the former’s producers won’t complain if some of that sweet Toy Story money accidentally comes their way.

Just before Christmas, a blended family moves into a rundown facility that used to be a home for sick kids. Parents David (Dayo Ade) and Hannah (Kyana Teresa) buy the building to turn into an inn, and they bring along his teen daughter Alicia (Verity Marks), her little kids Franklin (Saul Elias) and Zoe (Zoe Fish), and nanny Rose (Georgia Waters) for a mix of holiday and renovation time.

Once they settle in, the kids discover old toys in the building. Before long, spooky events ensue, all of which seem to be related to these mysterious playthings.

Though I alluded to the Toy Story series, Terror feels like it comes with a closer connection to a different classic: 1980’s The Shining. Not that Terror comes across like a remake of the Kubrick film, but the two share more than a few similarities.

Mainly these stem from the way that a creepy old building and related elements mess with the minds of those involved. More specifically, some of the characters start to behave in the ways depicted in Shining as well. These don’t equal ripoff territory, but they at least veer into homage realm.

Thus ends the comparisons between Terror and Shining. While I think the latter doesn’t deserve its glowing reputation, it certainly works a lot better than this sub-mediocre stab at scares.

Terror boasts a decent premise, and it occasionally almost nearly comes to life. In particular, some components related to those creepy toys add a decent twist.

However, Terror never takes advantage of these, largely because it doesn’t commit to a consistent tone. Much of the movie progresses like a moody haunted house story, but when it involves the titular playthings, it veers into nuttier territory.

On these occasions, it feels like Terror should embrace the insanity and go truly gonzo, but it doesn’t. Instead, the movie feels tame and tepid, like the filmmakers lack the nerve to fulfill the implied craziness on display.

Terror also never digs beneath the surface for characters or story elements. We get simplistic roles and plot threads that feel borrowed from Shining and a bunch of other movies.

At 89 minutes, Terror doesn’t run long enough to really wear out its welcome, but it still doesn’t deliver an interesting experience. This becomes a surprisingly generic horror film, one that squanders its unique elements.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Toys of Terror appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer held up acceptably well for SD-DVD.

Sharpness became one of the iffier elements, though it still seemed mostly satisfactory. Wider shots tended toward moderate softness.

Those concerns didn’t become major, though, so most of the movie displayed fairly positive clarity given the limitations of SD-DVD. Some minor instances of jaggies and shimmering appeared. Print flaws remained absent, and I saw no obvious edge haloes.

In general, colors worked fine. The movie went with a standard – though semi-chilly – teal and amber, and the hues seemed acceptable to good within the stylistic constraints.

Blacks were fairly dark, and low-light shots offered reasonable clarity. Nothing here made me forget I was watching a DVD, but the image seemed watchable.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Terror, it was also good but not exceptional. Some of that stemmed from the movie’s emphasis on ambience over action theatrics.

Occasionally some involving material emerged and these sequences opened up the room in a satisfying way. They didn’t crop up with great frequency, though, so don’t expect a ton of active material. The track created a reasonable soundscape but nothing scintillating.

The quality of the audio was fine. Music showed nice range and definition, as the movie’s score worked well.

Effects appeared clear and natural, with nice low-end. Speech came across as distinctive and concise. In the end, this turned into a “B” soundtrack.

We find two featurettes on the DVD, and Toys of Terror Come to Life spans five minutes, seven seconds. It brings notes from director Nicholas Verso, animation director Seamus Walsh, puppet wrangler Barney Marquez, and actors Dayo Ade, Kyana Teresa, and Zoe Fish.

“Life” looks at the movie’s use of stop-motion animation. Though brief, it offers a decent view of the processes.

A Terrifying Weekend runs five minutes, four seconds and features Verso, Ade, Teresa, Fish, and actors Georgia Waters, Verity Marks and Saul Elias. “Weekend” covers production design, stunts, and general elements from the shoot.

“Weekend” attempts to provide a basic “making of” show. It comes with some good shots from the set but it tends to feel a bit superficial.

Under trailers, we get ads for Deep Blue Sea 3, Snatchers. No ad for Terror appears here.

As an attempt to offer a scary Christmas story, Toys of Terror feels fairly limp. Though the film comes with moments that threaten to blossom, it seems oddly restrained and flat. The DVD brings generally positive picture and format but it lacks substantial bonus materials. This becomes a mediocre flick at best.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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