The Toyman Killer

Produced By: Reel World Management

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                It's that time of year when you discover that there is generally nothing new on television.  You know the time I'm talking about - that space involving Christmas, New Year's and the first week thereafter.  You'd be hard pressed to find anything but reruns other than football playoff games.  That being said, I was flipping channels after the disappointing football playoff between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, when I came upon the Lifetime Movie Network and a new thriller, The Toyman Killer.

                The Toyman Killer stars Sarah Carter as Dr. Kate Kovic, a troubled young woman, known in Washington as a leading psychologist and expert trial witness.  When approached by her mentor with the mysterious case of Christine Solter, Kovic balks.  She has just come off of a difficult trial and is battling her own demons, but something about the Solter case is incredibly intriguing.

                Christine Solter (Magda Apanowicz) confessed to the brutal murder of a retired police officer who was a respected philanthropic member of society.  Christine is a homeless teenager that, along with other teens at the local shelter, had received assistance from this retired cop on a number of occasions.  She was found at the scene with the officer's blood all over her and eventually confessed to his murder, but Dr. Kovic's mentor is convinced that Christine is innocent.  A psychiatric episode observed by Dr. Kovic's mentor convinces him that she is suffering from multiple personality disorder and falsely confessed to the murder.

                Dr. Kovic is skeptical that the teenager suffers from this rare psychiatric disorder, especially when Christine proves to be very uncooperative in trying to help her own case.  However, Kovic is not one to give up easily, especially when the odds are against her.  Most of the local police department is not thrilled with Kovic's involvement in this case, but Detective Ray Santana (David Haydn-Jones) is more than willing to help, believing that Christine has something to do with a serial killer case that he has been working on for years.  The two will have to work fast at proving Christine's innocence, though - she's scheduled for lethal injection in just seven days.  Will this be enough time for Dr. Kovic to unravel Christine's emotional state enough to get down to the bottom of the murder and prove her innocence?

                Depending on the movie, Lifetime Movie Network films can be cheesy and less than stellar.  A friend of mine calls the network the man-hater's club.  I tend to be a bit more objective when watching any film and was prepared to accept this film for what it was worth.  After all, there was really nothing noteworthy on television.  The Toyman Killer proved to be an adequate distraction, but not one of those films I would want to watch over and over again.

                The storyline was interesting, but not really anything new - a race against the clock to prove that a woman arrested for murder is not guilty...oh, and by the way, she just happens to have confessed to said murder.  Well, I've seen that before.  The whole multiple personality disorder case to prove the murderer's innocence?  Well, that was used to much different effect in Primal Fear.  That being said, I did like the psychologist's approach in uncovering the mystery behind the personalities.  I also thought the reasoning behind Christine's issues to be relatively believable and Magda Apanowicz's portrayal of Christine to be credible.   I liked the backstory of the psychologist and the fact that it gave her some insight into the case as well.

                But there were some flaws with this film other than its used plot.  I solved the case an hour into the film.  I shouldn't have been able to do that considering the plot twist that occurs at the end, but somehow, I predicted it coming (think Taking Lives).  Then there is the fact that the doctor sees someone outside her home and, rather than looking through one of the multiple - and may I say huge - windows in place all over her home to track said person, Dr. Kovic feels the need to go outside to look for the individual.  She does this on more than one occasion, even after receiving a phone threat.  I started yelling at the television, "What the heck are you doing?!  Why would you not call 911 instead of going outside?!"  And then, there is the amazing ability of the doctor to aim and fire an unfamiliar gun absolutely perfectly, while under duress, injured and possibly having never fired a weapon before (nothing in the film supports that she ever has).

                Yet, despite the problems with the film, The Toyman Killer wasn't exactly horrible.  It was a good fill-in for a less than stellar time in the television year.  It was a decent watch for a day when nothing was really worth watching, but I can't see me wanting to watch this film again.


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