I want to call your attention to the horror genre in general. If you're like me you probably like most horror movies, regardless of how terrible they are. B-movie schlock can be fun in its own right, but grade-A horror contains some of the best film making in cinema. Enter, The Devil's Candy, an indie horror movie from 2017 written and directed by Sean Byrne. Let me be perfectly honest and say that this movie wasn't even on my radar. It was recommended to me by our resident horror movie hater, Aaron Cronican. To hear him recommend a horror movie to me lead me to believe that it was either A) artsy bull crap with a horror wrapper around it, or B) a genuinely good horror movie. Let's find out which and as always, spoilers ahead.
The Devil's Candy is a non-rated movie from 2017 written and directed by Sean Byrne. Since this would fall into indie territory it would go to reason that there aren't any recognizable names in this movie but that doesn't really hold true here. Starring Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby with a small appearance from Tony Amendola, The Devil's Candy has more star power than I would have thought, and while we're on the topic of actors, the acting overall in this movie was pretty fantastic. Pruitt Taylor Vince plays the roll of our antagonist to chilling effect, but more on that later.
The movie follows Jesse (Embry), a painter who, along with his wife Astrid (Appleby) and daughter Zoe (played by Kiara Glasco) purchases a new house in Texas where the previous owners - an elderly couple - had passed away. What they don't know, and what we find out at the beginning of the movie is that the couple was murdered by their son Ray (Vince). Throughout the course of the movie we follow Jesse as he begins having strange visions which are reflected in his paintings as well as Ray, who is trying to get back into his parents' old house to keep away some unknown force that seems to be plaguing him. The chemistry between the 3 main characters is great. they seem like a real family unit and behave in a natural way. When it comes to the character of Ray I'm a little torn. I love the way that Pruitt Taylor Vince portrayed the character, but there are some story elements that I think take away from it but again, I'll get to that in a little bit.
On the technical side of things, The Devil's Candy is nearly flawless. A lot of times horror movies are shot for efficiency but not here. The camerawork in this film is spectacular, the lighting is fantastic, shots are framed well, it really is a beautiful looking movie. The Devil's Candy might also have my favorite soundtrack out of any movie soundtrack because our main characters are metal heads! This movie is filled to the brim with some of the best songs in metal, including a few from my personal favorite band, Metallica.
Now, I've been fawning over this movie pretty hard, let's get negative. I want to talk about Ray and the elements of the story that kind of let me down a bit. As I mentioned early, the movie starts with Ray murdering his parents in the house that Jesse and his family end up moving into. Now, you'd think that this might set the stage for some kind of haunted house movie since I also mentioned that Jesse starts getting visions which come out in his paintings in disturbing fashion, but thankfully the movie doesn't go that route. Instead, Ray is being told by the devil to murder children and the only way he can drown out the devil's voice by playing loud music. That's the part of the story that really let me down. Not that he thought the devil was talking to him, but that by the end of the movie we are lead to believe that the devil really was talking to him because Jesse's paintings were able to help him find the bodies of the other children Ray had murdered after he had tried twice to murder Jesse's daughter. The way the character was portrayed I honestly thought that The Devil's Candy would be trying to an interesting commentary on mental health, as nobody attempts to help Ray even though everyone can clearly see something isn't right with him. In my opinion, dramatic horror is at its best when it has something to say, and unfortunately this movie didn't end up really having much to say. To go out of my comfort zone and use a sports analogy, it's like a football team being at first and goal, only to end up having to kick a field goal. They still got points, but not as many as they could have gotten if they had done some things differently. Without wanting to sound dismissive, that's kind of what The Devil's Candy ended up being to me; a field goal.
Should you watch this movie? You absolutely should and at the time this article goes up it is available to stream on Netflix. Personal gripes aside it was still a very good movie; well directed, well shot, and well acted. I can't get too upset just because it didn't go the way I would have liked it to.