The Toll sounds like one of those horror movies that is going to rely solely on homages. The film has hints of Slenderman, The Strangers, and The Blair Witch Project. There is nothing wrong with paying tribute to influences. When done right, it can even add to a movie’s charm. The problem becomes when the new film has nothing new to add.
Cami (Jordan Hayes) orders a rideshare so she can go to her father’s country house. Spencer, the driver (Max Topplin) is a little more talkative than Cami would prefer, but this is soon the least of Cami’s problems. After Spencer takes a wrong turn, the two realize they are trespassing and a deadly toll is expected.
The Toll sounds like an urban legend. If there is going to be a character named the Toll Man, it is hard not to think of Bloody Mary and hooks on car doors. He even looks like something out of a scary story to tell in the dark. He is one of those characters that fits their name, is appropriately creepy, and also makes sure the moniker is not as ridiculous as it sounds.
Along with the Toll Man are the two main characters. The majority of the film is just Cami and Spencer. Unlike other horror films, The Toll asks its characters to carry much of the film. The results are mixed as Cami has an interesting backstory, but it is not fleshed out as well as it could.
This affects the rest of The Toll. Many horror movies are content to let the scares be the most important part of the film. There are elements of this in director Michael Nader’s film. There are jump scares and loud noises. Nader also sets a great tone.
What ends up happening is there is an odd conflict in the film. It is a weird mix between a straight up horror movie that wants to scare its audience and a more cerebral one that requires them to think. The Toll is still enjoyable, but it is hard to shake the feeling it could have been better.
The Toll comes to theaters, digital, and On Demand March 26
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