Studio: Anchor Bay
Director: Tom Raycove
Writer: Brian Watson, Colin Yardley
Producer: Evan Tylor, John Curtis
Stars: Doug Chapman, Kyra Zygorsky, Giles Panton, Philip Granger
Plane crash survivors stranded on a deserted island uncover a military experiment that mutates humans into bloodthirsty savages.
In the movies, is it even possible for the military to develop a chemical weapon or to conduct a test that doesn’t end up raising a mutated creature from the ocean or infecting humans with a zombie virus? While “Toxin” features enough conspicuous ADR to give it a patina of dubbed kaiju creature feature, this is a case of the latter, where a secret experiment gone wrong unleashes rabid soldiers on an unpopulated island.
Unpopulated until a renegade army lieutenant crashes a tourist party’s wilderness excursion and crash-lands their chartered plane, that is. Even though an evil colonel stands to make big money on the infectious powder, there are still bags of the stuff haphazardly lying all over the forest floor for anyone to pick up. The plane crash survivors do exactly that, and soon begin morphing into “28 Days Later”-style maniacs.
“Toxin” looks like the kind of low-budget quickie that was written, shot, and edited in about a week, maybe even just a single weekend. The content is so light that the movie only runs 69 minutes short without the credits. Real storylines do not even develop until the final ten minutes, when the script spontaneously piles on laughably clichéd revelations like the tour guide coincidentally being the daughter of the man who developed the toxin and the hero’s equally coincidental immunity to the virus being the key to creating an antidote.
Until then, “Toxin” is an hour of generic stereotypes running from generic “creatures” that are merely screaming actors with blood smeared on their faces. This is one of those uninspired efforts where the personalities are defined by wardrobe instead of by authentic character development from the script. There’s the Ivy League yuppie wearing boat shoes without socks and a v-neck sweater tied around his shoulders. The chubby goof sports a backwards baseball cap and a Hawaiian shirt. And the phone-obsessed Asian is clad in khaki slacks and a button-down dress shirt. This is convenient for an audience looking to tell these people apart, but impractical as attire for a group embarking on a weekend-long wilderness adventure.
The chiseled military man leading their charge doesn’t wear a shirt at all. Midway through the movie, a sprained ankle for the chubby goof provides an excuse for the hero to rip his tank top into a bandage. How that cures a sprained ankle, I don’t know. But it does give stuntman-turned-actor Doug Chapman ample opportunity to flaunt his physique for the next 15 minutes until he miraculously finds a replacement wife-beater.
Chapman’s square-jawed alpha male, Lt. Paxton, is hard to appreciate as the movie’s good guy since he is the primary cause of every problem faced in the first place. The only way to make it to the private island where the outbreak occurs is by hijacking a private plane, which Paxton does even with a passenger cabin occupied by innocent civilians on vacation. Once they are stranded on the island, Paxton’s determination to remain mysterious means he consistently avoids offering any useful information or explanation about his terrorist-like behavior. This goes on to the point where one of the survivors repeatedly punches Paxton for the unnecessary frustration. The audience, meanwhile, has to be content with punching a couch pillow.
Of course, had the hero behaved sensibly for one moment, there never would have been enough conflict to constitute a movie. Come to think of it, that might not have been such a bad course of action.
There is some fun to be had with “Toxin” provided your own imagination can stay lively enough to enhance the experience. Chapman channels enough of a young Clint Eastwood in physical appearance and gravelly line delivery pushed through clenched teeth that I eked out laughs by pretending I was in fact watching the Hollywood legend slumming it in a bad B-movie. Though so desperate was I to force some kind of entertainment that the sarcastic side of my unconscious mind provided the best laugh of all when I heard Luke Skywalker echoing his line as he first laid eyes on the Millennium Falcon, “what a piece of junk!”
Review Score: 30