The Toll Ending Explained-Everyone Must Pay One Way Or Another
The Toll from writer/director Michael Nader is a quality horror film with old-school vibes and enough legitimate scares to satisfy fans of the genre. Nader loves horror movies, and it shows in the creation and direction of the film releasing everywhere on VOD today. It is well-paced, with scares placed at key moments. The film, which feels a little like two films in one, leaves bread crumbs for you to follow and then pushes you down a rabbit hole just when you think you have it all figured out.
Cami, played by Jordan Hayes of the criminally underseen Helix, is a tired traveler who has flown in to visit her father, who lives on a ranch far out of town. Her flight was very late coming in, and she has called a ride share to take her to her Dad’s. Spencer, Max Topplin(Suits) is a socially awkward driver who has trouble making even the simplest of small talk. When they make a wrong turn and find themselves in the middle of nowhere with something stallking them, they have no choice but to trust each other and pay the Toll Man.
Nader does a great job creating monsters and situations with basic materials. Nathan Laws’ costume design of the things haunting Spencer and Cami is excellent. There is something unsettling about the normalcy of their clothes with the wrongness of their masks. As a collection, they are some of the best in recent horror movies. What’s real and what is an trick of the Toll Man are all in the minds of Spencer and Cami. Here’s everything you need to know about the surprising twist ending.
What happens at the end of The Toll?
Cami and Spencer early realize early on they are lost in some other place that lives alongside our own reality. This is the Toll Man’s dominion, and he controls everything you see, hear, and think. His job is to create chaos and get paid. Two separate expository dumps explain what is happening. Lorraine, Orphan Black’s Rosemary Dunsmore explains that the Toll Man is attracted to pain and death. If there is trauma in your past that has caused you to consider suicide, you are vulnerable to him. If you are violent, your his. The only way out is by paying the toll. That toll is always blood. Very few escape the Toll Man, and all of them pay a price one way or another.
After being haunted through most of the movie by disturbing masked people and dead relatives Cami and Spencer run back to his car and try to avoid seeing the people. They were told if the Toll Man can’t see them, and they don’t look, he can’t affect their minds. The try to blackout the windows but miss the backup camera where a message tells them that the Toll Man only needs one of them to die.
In the early stages of the film, Cami didn’t trust Spencer because it was late at night, on an isolated road, and the driver was odd. Later out of necessity, she began to cautiously trust that he was exactly as presented. The audience does as well until in the final scene; he reveals everyone was right to mistrust him all along. He shoots Cami with his bow and arrow and tells her he had been thinking about raping and killing her since he picked her up. She fell and pretended to be dead until he came close to check, and then she killed him. When he died, she was released, and her father and the police arrived to take her home.
Who was the Toll Man attracted to?
Spencer thinks it is him the Toll Man was drawn to. He believes that because he was thinking about raping and killing Cami. Presumably, he has done this to other women who got into his car. He tells her he thought initially that the Toll Man wanted to punish him, but he realized that the Toll Man only cares about his payment. Early on, Spencer and Cami are told the Toll Man will try to get in their heads and make them turn on each other. Spencer tells Cami the Toll Man didn’t even try to get in his head because he knew he didn’t need to encourage him to do anything terrible. He was already thinking about it.
The boogeyman was actually drawn by Cami, who we later learn had been sexually assaulted sometime in her past. Through a series of flashback memories intended to make Cami crumble, we see what appears to be an assault and then abuse at the hands of her friends, family, and the police. The dream sequence is a respectful view of what a rape victim experiences. Often the aftershocks of the attack are as bad as the violence itself. Some question that she is lying, some accuse her of instigating the attack, and others try to help, but even their kindness is hard to bear.
The Toll Man wanted Cami because he thought she was weak. She endured a lot in her formative years, and it shaped her but did not break her. Cami refused to let Spencer kill her without a fight and when he came back to finish the job she struck. She was reclaiming her voice and her power. Tired of being a victim, Cami chose to fight back. The Toll Man only needed one death, so she was released when she stabbed Spencer in the neck. She will need some therapy, but she is safe in the real world again.
Cami managed to escape the Toll Man because she killed Spencer, who had been pretending to be a good guy from the beginning. He thought he needed her to survive, and thus he acted the part. When he realized she could be his payment, he dropped the facade and shot her. Although this is a horror film in every sense, it also works as an allegory for sexual assault.
Those who commit violence against others are often excused by society because they are a “good guy.” Men especially get a free pass. They are star athletes or wealthy elites. It must be the fault of female temptresses who have next-day buyer’s remorse. Just look at the case of Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer who raped Chanel Miller. His brutal attack only resulted in 6 months in jail, shortened to three for good behavior and six months probation. He will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. The ridiculous sentence highlights the systemic problem, though. Judge Persky, who presided over the case and was later removed from office, argued Turner’s one bad decision shouldn’t ruin his whole life. Evidently, no one cared about how his decision would affect Miller’s.
Those events have lasting effects that can warp who you become and how happy you are. Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman is a prime example of the dialogue that is beginning. Women aren’t to blame, and we won’t be victims forever. Sometimes the only way out is through, and when Cami confronted and defeated her demons, she made it back to her life. The Toll Man got paid, just not the payment he was expecting.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.