Toy Story of Terror (2013)
Toy Story of Terror (2013)

Genre: Fairy Tale and Short Running Time: 22 min.

Release Date: October 16th, 2013 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Angus MacLane Actors: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Carl Weathers, Stephen Tobolowsky, Timothy Dalton, Wallace Shawn, Kristen Schaal

 


 

“W

atch out! He’s right behind you!” The whole gang of toys, including Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and Jessie (Joan Cusack), watches a vampire movie in the back of the car as they’re driven home in the rain by their human owners (Bonnie and her mother). When a flat tire forces them to spend the night at a SleepWell motel, the toys must decide whether or not to explore their surroundings – which turns out to be the number one rule not to break in a horror film environment.

Amusingly, as the characters pick apart the flaws and analyze the standard tactics of suspense within the black-and-white picture they view, the subsequent misadventures at the inn begin to resemble those exact scenarios. As they’re split up, caught off guard, and frightened by cobwebs or lightning strikes or loud noises, Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton) reiterates how the construction of thrills can be systematically used to manipulate audiences. It’s all a little too obvious, though it’s undoubtedly fun to see the familiar group of playthings reunite for a new story.

The animation is effective to match the feature-length films (it follows the events of “Toy Story 3”), while the plot engagingly mirrors one of the major aspects of “Toy Story 2.” With its premise nicely designed to fill the 20-minute runtime, it almost doesn’t matter that pauses in the action are very evidently arranged for commercial breaks (this television special originally aired on ABC for Halloween programming). The camaraderie, teamwork, motivational encouragement, and family-friendly themes (most prominently with Jessie being forced to confront her fears) are commonplace yet fitting, helped tremendously by consistent humor and recognizable returning roles, including Rex (Wallace Shawn), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Trixie (Kristen Schaal), and more. It’s quite funny as new toys are spoofed and witty dialogue or actions make use of specific properties – like Transformers or Pez dispensers or the expertly-voiced Combat Carl (Carl Weathers). In lieu of another theatrical entry, this short tale is perfectly enjoyable. “All great horror films start slowly …”

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10