The Devil's Candy - Artful Horror
I had been hearing really strong reviews for The Devil's Candy recently but was still cautiously optimistic. The Devil's Candy is written and directed by Sean Bryne, with one additional feature length horror film to his name, it could have been hit or miss. I was very happy I decided to go for it as The Devil's Candy was full of strong acting performances and a relatively original spin on a not so original plot. It was enough to make me remember Sean Bryne's name.
The movie stars Ethan Embry (Can't Hardly Wait, The Walking Dead) as Jessie Hellman. A full time artist and father. His wife Astrid is played by Shiri Appleby (Rosewell, Swimfan) who loves her family and their heavy metal attitude despite being much more straight laced. The star of the show for me, was Kiara Glasco (Maps to the Stars, I'll Follow You Down) who gave an inspired performance as Zooey Hellman, the metal loving daughter. She was the peg the family revolved around and drove in the emotion. With a strong bond to Ethan Embry's character, you could tell the chemistry was strong. The last piece to the cast has always been a favorite "oh hey it's that guy" actor of mine. Pruitt Taylor Vince plays Ray Smilie, the damaged son of the former owners of the house which the Hellman family purchases. His nystagmus (involuntary eye movement) makes him recognizable as anyone and perfect for the horror genre.
As I said before, the plot itself is one that has been done MANY times. Family moves from the city into a to-good-to-pass-up-price on a country home, weird stuff starts to happen. Although this has been done, the WAY the story was told sets it apart. As this movie could have gone full Amityville, it takes a different tact. The supernatural aspect to the film is left somewhat unexplained which benefitted it in my opinion. It's not something you'll have to think about for hours after but it definitely feels right.
Sean Bryne uses a lot of strong visuals to set the tone and pace. The split scenes of Ethan Embry going to town on his painting to the tune of some heavy metal and Pruitt Taylor Vince being exceptionally creepy gives a strong sense of dread throughout. There is a darkness to the art Jessie is creating and Ethan gives a strong gritty performance as he tries to maintain his sanity. His desperation and love for his daughter is matched by Kiara making you really feel for the family and care what happens to them. In a movie with a 79 minute runtime that is a feat in and of itself.
I personally hope to see Ethan Embry continues to revitalize his career as he's done recently. When Andrew Lincoln doesn't want your character killed off after one episode, it's saying a lot about your acting ability. With few lead roles and a plethora of side characters, this performance should certainly help him. Kiara has a few bigger movies on her resume already, but she should continue her strong start. The casts performances were my favorite part of this movie.
Any fan of horror should check out this quick spiral into darkness. It's not groundbreaking but with a excellent performances, creepy visuals, and strong direction it's a must see.