Toolbox Murders starts out as a simple slasher flick, then takes a sharp right turn into semi-Masonic horror. But the slasher element never gets too far away. Basic plot: nice young couple moves into creepy apartment building with alchemical symbols on the floor. People die. Wife discovers something she will regret discovering, and explores it. That last bit is the sharp right turn, and if you’re the kind of person who really liked the house in The Blair Witch Project and that cave in Jeepers Creepers, you’d really like the places this movie goes.
Despite Tobe Hooper’s fairly good track record, I believe Toolbox Murders went more or less straight to video. Kind of a pity; it’s better than most slasher flicks that hit the theaters. Also, it’s got Juliet Landau (who you may recognize as Drusilla) in it. Most of all, it’s got a tenuous grounding in Jack Parson’s Babalon Working.
Seriously! It’s pretty tenuous, though. Really just a one-line tossaway: “They worshipped a god, a man who mixed magic and rocket science.” Since the movie takes place in Hollywood, and since the antecedent to “they” is Hollywood stars, the reference is fairly obvious. Well, if you’re a Jack Parsons fan. The timeline works out, too, if I’m not mistaken.
Anyhow. I’m not going to say it’s a great work of art, but I will say that Tobe Hooper has a very good sense of how to make a simple movie scary. His use of setting is superb; in order for this movie to work, the apartment building has to be creepy but conceivably a place where people would live, and he pulls that off with flair. I’d definitely recommend looking Toolbox Murders up if you like horror.