Director: Martin Kitrosser
Cast: Jane Higginson, Tracy Fraim, Brian Bremer, William Thorne, Neith Hunter, Mickey Rooney, Van Quattro
Screenplay: Martin Kitrosser, Brian Yuzna
90 mins. Rated R for strong sensuality and violence.
I know it isn’t Christmas yet, but to be completely honest, 2020 is a pretty sucky year, and I’m ready to be done with it. Today, let’s just spend one day believing it’s Christmas, and there’s only one way to celebrate Christmas in October: with a horror movie. Let’s turn to the most famous, or infamous, of the Christmas horror film franchises: Silent Night, Deadly Night. In fact, let’s go all the way to the fifth film. My gift to you.
Young Derek Quinn (William Thorne, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Demonic Toys) is not having a very good holiday after watching his father get horrifically murdered by a Christmas toy that showed up at their door. Two weeks later, Derek is not talking much, and his mother Sarah (The Indian, An American Reunion) is worried about him. She should be concerned as well. Toys keep arriving at their home, and they seem hell-bent on killing Derek and anyone associated with him. Now, Sarah will need all the help she can get in keeping her son safe through the holidays.
Martin Kitrosser (Living in Fear, Man of Her Dreams) makes his directorial debut from a screenplay co-written by him along with Brian Yuzna. I enjoyed Kitrosser’s writing on some of the Friday the 13th films, and I had faith that he would craft an interesting tale for this fifth go-around of the franchise. I would at least give him credit that it’s a rather interesting idea, but it’s just so poorly-crafted from the bottom up. This kind of story about violent toys coming to life and attacking people can be done well (just look at Stephen King’s Battleground and the terrific Nightmares & Dreamscapes adaptation of the story), but it feels like this script desperately at east one more pass. There’s a weird subplot involving the mysterious stranger, Noah (Tracy Fraim, Fear, Guns Before Butter), who knows the Quinns and may be connected to the killer toys. I think Sarah makes some extremely poor choices concerning the safety of her son.
Mickey Rooney (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Night at the Museum) appears in the film as toy maker Joe Petto. First of all, let’s just realize that the name of the character is really strange (yes I get it sounds like Geppetto but never name your character Petto). Rooney’s character is about as strange, particularly the way he interacts with his son Pino (Brian Bremer, Pumpkinhead, Society). He’s entertaining, I guess, but very unusual and uncomfortable to watch (perhaps this comes from the fact that Rooney was so offended by the original Silent Night, Deadly Night that he wrote protest letter to get the film out of cinemas for its disrespect of Christmas, so seeing him here almost makes this full circle).
The Toy Maker is not a good film, but in terms of the actual film series, it’s probably the best one. Certainly the most well-made, even with the obvious problems with the screenplay and cheap effects. It’s a unusual and creepy story that works well enough for a schlocky little winter night. I had fun with it even though it’s terrible, but you need to know what you are getting into. The story is poorly-plotted, some of the character decisions are completely nonsensical (not to mention several actors return from the fourth film as new characters with the exact same name?), and the toys are not frightening in the slightest. But hey, even Birdemic has an audience, right?
-Kyle A. Goethe
- For my review of Charles E. Sellier Jr’s Silent Night, Deadly Night, click here.
- For my review of Lee Harry’s Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, click here.
- For my review of Monte Hellman’s Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!, click here.
- For my review of Brian Yuzna’s Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4, click here.
- For my review of Steven C. Miller’s Silent Night, click here.