The Reel Review
A late night rideshare turns into terror when a socially awkward driver and his exhausted passenger find themselves inexplicably unable to escape from a road in the middle of a remote forest. The two eventually discover that they are stuck in another dimension with a supernatural toll man seeking to exact a deadly payment from at least one of them, in this supernatural horror.
The first half hour of this low budget thriller is actually quite well done, exploring the inherent mistrust of strangers and trusting one’s intuition, along with themes of the supernatural, set to mundane surroundings which take on a spooky and sinister vibe under increasingly unusual and mysterious circumstances. There is at least one jump scare that is guaranteed to send a thrill down your spine.
But about halfway into the film, it becomes apparent that writer/director Michael Nader has started a story that he doesn’t quite know how to finish. The Toll veers off into typical horror tropes, including some more commonly found in nearly every exorcism movie. By the time we arrive at its hackneyed, predictably dull finalé, we sadly realize this is a rideshare we almost certainly won’t want to take again.
• Jordan Hayes and Max Topplin play a married couple in the 2o15 relationship dramedy Almost Anything.
• Michael Nader, who makes his feature directorial debut in The Toll, is also known for writing the screenplays for the 2018 desert horror Head Count and 2017 adventure/dramedy Flock of Four.
• Filmed in Toronto over a two-week period, The Toll was slated to premiere at 2020’s SXSW Film Festival, just days before it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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