The latest classic in the Demonic Toys franchise by Full Moon Features, Demonic Toys: Jack-Attack is a ridiculous B-Rate killer toy clown sort of horror movie. With little anchoring on the nature of the monsters nor their purpose in being here, outside of the fact that this is a longstanding horror franchise. With quiet bug-eyed moments and creepy killer toys beset by decent coloring and lighting choices, this B-Rate horror film is pretty decent albeit not super memorable outside of checking off all of the typical horror boxes.
Now, the Demonic Toys original movie was actually written by David S. Goyer. So hopes for this movie were not too low on my end. In this film, a young orphan named Lilly (Sofia Castellanos) is a sixteen-year-old foster teen who keeps having her step-parents be killed. Lilly acts like a child stuck in arrested development due to her trauma. And though she isn’t terrible in portraying a misfit teen, her mute communication deficiencies and penchant for markers and art feel strange at times given that she’s got the characterization of a traumatized six-year-old. Immediately, Lilly is placed in a new home, her fourth in three years, with a caseworker Audrey Haines (Mabel Thomas) supervising her case and offering mentorship, serving as a woman who more than related to her own plight despite her arc of never have kids of her own.
For a B-Rate film, I was impressed by some of the scenic drone shots of the countryside and the quality was actually decent in setting the space I give kudos to the cinematographer. Who made lemonade out of a lot of lemons with great shots and lots of drone establishing shots. I also think the house is very goth with Amity horror vibes. Likewise, the sound and ambiance are about on par with standard horror with whistling iron noise effects and creepy laughter. The music was also decent in terms of setting the mood.
Though this is not a subtle movie and knows exactly what it is, with forced themes of literally Lilly needing to find her voice (again, she’s mute) and killer toys entering the fray almost immediately. Screenplay-wise, it’s oddly a decent script, as each character does have a story arc going on that actually strives to meet their goals (or ends them surreptitiously early via killer toy clowns), including desires of being a social media influencer, being a good parent, or just getting down and dirty and wanting to do it (sex). Atop of this, the movie never really gives any moments to breathe, with no scenes or shots wasted in this stuffing of backstory presented by incredibly convenient placings of youtube videos and newspaper clippings. Giving us all the backstory we need at little effort, yet somehow, also says nothing outside of the fact that some people there were killer toy clowns (Why toy clowns? Is never revealed).
Speaking of which, there are seemingly references to previous films featured in the movie. Much of the horror is creepy clowns and occasional shock gore that does delight at the right moments. Without spoilers, there was a certain red light jack-in-the-box which was fun to see. All in a timeless, here are toys they go kill you now, kind of approach to the movie.
Yet, despite attempts to be timeless, this story is odd in that I can’t tell when it’s meant to take place. It’s set during the social media influencer age but the costume design felt like something straight out of early 2000s, as is some of the hairstyles that can feel… out of place and on the nose sort of cheesy. What’s peculiarly terrible is the strange use of CGI for a few particular scenes featuring crawling wormlike clowns, and even chickens and farm animals, all in incredibly low quality that the movie didn’t need to include at all. It didn’t help that in some of these scenes of horror, the exterior morning hour lighting was inconsistent, at times being brighter than it should. Given that this is a B-movie budget, that’s understandable yet at the same time, disruptive of mood.
What’s best in the movie is when it embraces what it is as a B-Rate film. With laughing clown jack in the boxes, chewed-up skeleton hands that are obviously plastic, and its embrace of low-brow horror you’d expect from a 90s or late 80s movie. Perfect given that’s when the original took place.
On the positive, this is a movie led by a strong women cast. In particular, I love the influencer cousin in Dewey, who runs a social media profile called the Dewey Dolls, which is a fun play on the toy theme. I’ll even admit, the creepy pedo-dad and brother, also fulfill their roles in a stereotypical way that while unoriginal in characterization at best, is also, satisfying for the storyline at worst, oddly somehow meeting in the middle of saying: decent in terms of fitting the story and pulling off the performance.
But here’s the kicker in overanalyzing his B-Rate piece which I’m realizing that I am doing now… it’s killer clown dolls based on a cheesy early 90s horror movie. So it’s pretty hard to be overly critical as we’re here for one thing: clown toys go boo! In that sense, yeah, this is a good movie.
Some horror is meant for subtle buildups to bigger themes with large takeaway messages about the purpose of family, or better yet, ghosts living vicariously through haunted dolls. Chucky, Pennywise, Sweet Tooth? This movie is not trying to be that. Instead, it embraces itself in good frightful fun, throwing every typical horror trope from frisky horny teens getting murdered and endless cavalcades of cackling clown toy gore. Decent and enjoyable if you just want a short and silly distraction as a horror fan.
At a little shy of an hour, it’s about a good run time for both the plot and subject matter. The movie makes for an interesting short of splashy gore and practical effects, with an ending you probably won’t expect.