REVIEW: The Devil’s Candy (2015)

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A sweet, twisted fix for metalheads, artists, and Horror junkies.

I AM still shaking as I am writing this review. The Horror genre is saved, once again.

Sean Byrne brilliantly marries horror and heavy Metal music in to The Devil’s Candy (2015), an indie horror flick released in limited theaters last March this year, but premiered two years ago on the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

Whenever I watch a horror movie, I always focus on the story and ask, “Is this a compelling story? Will I care about the characters?” Fortunately, in this movie, I got the answers that I wanted.

The plot is a simple nightmare–a young family of three moves in to an affordable house, dismisses the house’s bad vibes, and then shit happens. Jesse Hellman is a sensitive and doting father to his daughter, Zooey and a caring husband to his loving wife, Astrid. However, Jesse who is a struggling painter, starts to neglect them after hearing a satanic voice in the house. It hypnotizes him to paint gruesome images of children burning in hell. Meanwhile, a mentally disturbed killer, Ray Smile, hears the same satanic voice, which he calls “him”. Ray torments the family and pursues Zooey, as he is told by “him” that she’s the sweetest candy Ray will ever taste.

Yes, it has the usual horror tropes, but the characters are incredibly fleshed out–the kind of movie characters you really care about. Ethan Embry as Jesse and Kiara Glasco as Zooey did a terrific job at portraying a metal-loving father and daughter tandem. Embry’s eyes are so gentle. The rapport between these actors was present thus making them convincing. Despite that, I felt that Shiri Appleby‘s Astrid could have benefited on a few more minutes of character exposure. What really crept me out was Pruitt Taylor Vince as Ray. That guy was creepy as hell. Hands down. His portrayal of the deranged, childlike Ray was so spot-on. This guy is really up there together with John Goodman’s Howard in 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016).

If you don’t care, you don’t scare.

— Sean Byrne

Andy Canny, Byrne’s editor, also deserves a round of applause. His editing in this film is just SUPERB. At 79 minutes, one wouldn’t expect a slow-burn, but it wasn’t moving hurriedly either. I read everywhere that the film’s pacing was too fast, but I felt the opposite–everything felt natural–just right. One of my favorite parts is the juxtaposition of the scene where Jesse dabs his paintbrushes in red paint together with the scene where the Ray’s mop drenches in a child’s fresh blood in the bathtub. Wow. The energy in that scene was just so terrifyingly… magnetic. Meanwhile, the dark reds, murky greens, and moldy blues of the cinematography also gave flesh to the looming evil presence around the characters–all thanks to Cinematographer Simon Chapman.

Some of my favorite shots:

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With no doubt, this film has the creeps and most importantly, the heart. No monsters and ghouls are visible in this film, but when the credits roll, it made me think about the true form of evil–as what other great horror flicks have persistently depicted. The Devil’s Candy is indeed a game-changer who knew the rules well before trying to break them. The metal soundtrack from Metallica, Slayer, and Pantera will surely leave you grasping for air as a very rewarding climax explodes in the end.

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