Spencer (Max Topplin) is an Uber driver of the creepy sort: He picks his clients – females, natch – based on their looks and has no issues chatting them up during his trips. The topics are borderline disturbing, touching on how he hunts animals with bow and arrow and would love for the ladies to join him.
Cami (Jordan Hayes) flies in late one night to visit her dad and hails Spencer’s Uber. Getting close to her destination, Spencer turns onto a remote road (“just following the GPS!”), which puts Cami on edge. Is Spencer simply awkward, or is he plain sinister? Before she can find out, the car breaks down, and their cellphones stop working. Cami and Spencer find themselves trapped in the Toll Man’s world, one they can only escape if they pay the right price. No prizes for guessing what that entails.
The Toll very much belongs to the school of Creepypasta, and there are some similarities to that trope’s Slender Man, if only in character design. I’m a sucker for these kinds of movies and found both Butterfly Kisses and 47 Hours to Live more entertaining than I strictly should have. There has yet to be a truly great Creepypasta film, but many – or some – are strangely watchable. I would put The Toll in that category. Watchable. Entertaining. Fun. Even pretty well executed.
The majority of the movie features only the two main actors on screen, and they do their jobs perfectly OK. Not up there with Aya Cash and Josh Ruben in Scare Me, but that’s a tall order to fill. Topplin doubles down on his character’s awkwardness, portraying a type we all know, bow and arrow aside. Had the actors not brought their A-ish-game, the movie would quickly have fallen apart.
As is important with any Creepypasta joint is the stalking villain and their hi-jinx. Here, the Toll Man has created a pocket-sized, circular mirror of our own world. The two prisoners try to run one way only to find themselves back where they started. All the while, the Toll Man puts out creepy messages to them and tricks their minds into seeing echoes from their lives’ worst moments.
That is also the part where the movie hits a rough spot.
The Toll tries to have A Message™, and that comes off as trite. I get that there has to be a psychological facet to this type of movie, but if you’re getting into heavier territories, you better make it count. In The Toll, it seems more like an afterthought. It’s not enough to make the movie fall apart at the seams but leads to some cringe-worthy scenes.
In the end, though? I like The Toll; it’s a perfectly entertaining little movie. It’s never downright scary, but the atmosphere – very Silent Hill-like – is moody, and it does an adequate job at creating its own world (literally in this case).
If you enjoy a good Creepypasta yarn, I gladly recommend The Toll.
Those Creepypasta films, ranked
- We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
- Butterfly Kisses
- The Toll
- 47 Hours to Live
- Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story
- Slender Man
- The Tall Man
The Troll Toll
I mean, we were all thinking it.
Letterboxd summary: A socially awkward driver and a weary passenger try to make it to their destination while being haunted by a supernatural threat.
Ratings from around the web
|One Star Classics||4/6|