After the multi-award winning TOY STORY 3 finished off one of the most critically acclaimed trilogies of all-time, can this Halloween special Toy Story of Terror justify a return to these beloved characters? This new outing revolves around the toys joining their new owner Bonnie on a road trip before things take a turn for the worst and they have to spend a night in a horrific roadside motel.
We begin with an appropriate reference to horror icon Dracula which sets the tone for Pixar’s first foray into the horror genre, and as we join this adventure there are more genre nods added along the way. Happily, this subtle self-awareness never becomes tiresome as Pixar continue their magic and it’s used for both terrifying and comedic effect, blended perfectly to appeal to children and horror buffs of all ages.
This time Timothy Dalton’s hilariously Shakespearean hedgehog, Mr. Pricklepants, steals scene after scene with full comic effect after being shamefully under used in TOY STORY 3. It would also be criminal not to mention Carl Weathers’ character ‘Combat Carl’ who gets more than a few laughs as the hardened survivalist of the motel. Weathers clearly had fun here with more than a few fun pokes at his character in PREDATOR whilst channeling some of his comedic muscles from HAPPY GILMORE.
The already legendary animation studio also create another memorable villain who puts the toys under threat, as well as other notable characters such as a curious Pez dispenser and (a character who can only be described as) Optimus Prime’s long lost cousin. Although Toy Story of Terror squeezes in a load of new characters, it also doesn’t forget those original heroes. Woody and Buzz’s timeless friendship is ever present and their classic banter is on full display whilst Buzz and Jessie’s relationship is further hinted at throughout the narrative.
One of the standout elements of Toy Story of Terror is the character development that occurs for Joan Cusack’s Jessie. Jessie is given a large amount of screen time and carries the story on her shoulders beautifully with an emotional anchor that will captivate the audience and take them on the journey with her.
Overall, this new short is wonderfully made with gorgeous animation and a script that is scary, surprising, heart-warming and funny. Pixar have exceeded themselves by combining the old and new but present enough laughs and scares to satisfy. It also plays into the thought that maybe TOY STORY shorts are the ideal way for the studio to keep moving on with the franchise by maintaining the standard of storytelling without undermining the trilogy that preceded it. Toy Story of Terror certainly leaves you wanting more adventures from the toy gang after this superb addition to the franchise.