3 out of 5
Directed by: Martin Kitrosser
Ah, the completely-unconnected-horror-franchise films, such a unique little oddity. It’s even more fun when a series plays with half-hearted connections for a little while, and then just throws it out the window completely, only to tease “dedicated” viewers with some throwaway references. Doubling down on this is a sequel to the throwaway that makes connections to the throwaway, but throws those away as well.
Welcome to Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker, the Brian Yuzna co-written and produced sequel to his fourth entry in SNDN, now directed by Martin Kitrosser.
The Toy Maker actually kicks off with a sequence that suggests we might be in for a pseudo-reboot / remake: a kid (William Thorne) spies on his parents’ lovemaking, and then later is traumatized by a Christmas-themed killing, which offs his father. Might this be a new Ricky? But, no: Screaming Mad George is on special effects, and the killing occurs via a morphing toy, so this is, probably, something else. Also, some actors reprise their roles from part 4, and there’s a kill callback to that movie, but none of that is actually connected to that movie, and maybe someone is watching a previous SNDN entry on a TV at one point, so… Yeah, it doesn’t matter. It’s a horror movie that occurs at Christmas, and someone had the license to Silent Night, Deadly Night.
What’s more relevant is that The Toy Maker is legitimately pretty fun. It’s of the classic DTV-era of cheapie horror when the distraction could equal laughs and some fun effects and kooky ideas, and Yuzna is a good sign of those elements being in place. In addition, the actors – including the kid – all do a pretty good job, with director Kitrosser keeping things moving along and stylistic, without any obnoxiously over-stylized moments. The script, written by both Martin and Brian, also manages to pack in some interesting twists in revealing who’s behind some killer toys, and what’s up with new-to-the-neighborhood-dark-stranger Noah (Tracy Fraim ), though when you cue in that there’s a toymaker named “Joe Petto” (Mickey Rooney) and he has a son, “Pino” (Brian Bremer), you’ll likely figure out the main beats. If not, a babysitter reads from Pinocchio later on.
In a wild world, Yuzna would’ve continued on with further Silent Night films, with other red herring connections, just to confuzzle things further, but he had other funky sequels to get to.
Silent Night, Deadly Night was a bizarre franchise that was never really great, but never really bad, and then at times – good times, like this last entry – just sort of silly and bizarre.