The saying goes “Ask and ye shall receive.” Toolbox Murders 2, out on Blu-ray from Scream Factory, woefully demonstrates that, unfortunately, sometimes you’ll receive even if you don’t ask.
A re-imagining of the 70s proto-slasher, 2004’s Toolbox was perhaps one of the biggest disappointments of that decade, due to the unforeseen budget crunch that crippled it mid-production. It was a film that held a lot of promise: Solid directing, a creepy premise, and strong performances from Angela Bettis and the heinously underutilized Sherri Moon-Zombie in an effective cameo. If, for nothing else than the glimpse of what could have been, it was an enjoyable outing.
Which brings me to Toolbox Murders 2.
While the 2004 film worked on the giallo model of using a detective story as the backdrop for a bloodbath, Toolbox 2 dispenses with the whole “story” thing and goes straight for the slaughter. It’s a film that’s short on plot but long on gore, heaping blood-drenched pile of entrails on top of blood- drenched pile of entrails until the story arc becomes “When will there be more entrails?”
Inexplicably, the first film’s feral killer has decided he’s no longer content to simply protect his crawlspace kingdom and escapes into the world to, even more inexplicably, kidnap random women and force them to watch him murder random people (an apparent nod to the Coffin Joe franchise; the film’s original title was even “Coffin Baby”). It’s a premise that exists solely as a pretext for a smorgasbord of gut-munching, but to the filmmakers’ credit, this is, apparently, all they hoped to achieve: The theatrical trailer which serves as the sole special feature on the DVD is comprised of nothing but gore shots. If that was, indeed, the singular goal, it’s been achieved admirably. For torture-porn fans, Toolbox 2 is par excellence: An endless exercise in vividly lit, psychedelic set pieces of violence evoking a sort of neon Francis Bacon painting come to life, courtesy of some of the most color-conscious work Scream Factory’s ever done. I’d go so far as to say that, for gore-hounds left wanting since the last Saw, this might actually be the movie they’ve been waiting for: Visually arresting, context-less violence, neatly wrapped in a blood-drenched package and delivered straight to their DVD players. For the average horror fan, though, one thing is certain: This is something you did not ask for.