THE TOLL (2021)
We all have been there, hopping into a ride share and not wanting to talk to the chatty driver. Or perhaps he was giving you some weird vibes. Either way, what if the car broke down in the middle of nowhere and, better yet, something was out there messing with you? That’s the premise of The Toll, an utterly suspenseful and terrifying film from first-time feature director Michael Nader that taps into that common anxiety and paranoia and keeps you guessing from beginning to end.
Cami (Jordan Hayes) has flown in to go see her father at his home in the country, but the night has other plans for her. Soon she starts suspecting that her ride share driver (Max Topplin) is playing a sinister game, not knowing that something bigger is at play. The Toll is film with a simple premise that does not employ over-the-top CGI or anything flashy to advance the plot, rather it utilizes audience expectations and tempered silence to push your blood pressure sky-high. Subtle choices made by Nader demonstrate an understanding of the genre and an appreciation of the heavyweights of horror.
Hayes and Topplin take the film and run with it from very early on with Hayes representing every weary passenger ever and Topplin never quite giving you a clear answer on what is going on with him. By utilizing supernatural elements to further the turmoil, The Toll builds an entire lore in its short runtime that will leave audiences wanting more.
Nader’s directorial debut is truly one of the best horror films in recent memory that, although low budget and not as polished as others in the genre, delivers chilling scares and complete mental anguish. Think The Strangers, Jeepers Creepers, and Saw all rolled into one.
The Toll hits theaters and VOD this Friday.
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