The Devil's Candy Review (2017)

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Devil's Candy Review (2017)

Horrorific content by adrian on December 11th, 2018 | Movie Review | Possession, Cursed, Supernatural, Madness, Haunted House

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It’s about a father and working artist who becomes a marionette for the devil.

The Devil’s Candy was directed by Sean Byrne (who also directed The Loved Ones) and stars Ethan Embry (from Convergence), Shiri Appleby and, Pruitt Taylor Vince (from Creature).

He Will Slither into your Soul

The Devils Candy Review

If you caught and enjoyed Aussie filmmaker, Sean Byrne’s The Loved Ones back in 2009 and left the theater eager for more, it only stands to reason that The Devil’s Candy would be somewhere on your to-see list. When it comes to debut productions, The Loved Ones showed a lot of promise and definitely put Byrne on a lot of people’s “talent to watch” map. As is the case with any follow-up sophomore effort, The Devil’s Candy had a lot to live up to when it debuted at 2015’s Toronto International Film Festival, but does it actually make the grade? Even more importantly, is it worth your time?

The Devil’s Candy stars Ethan Embry as professional artist, Jesse Hellman. It was released in the United States by IFC Midnight on Saint Patrick’s Day of 2017.

Like lots of working artists, Jesse Hellman is nothing if not a little bit tortured. He’s definitely a bit of a metalhead who struggles to maintain a balance between staying true to his artistic integrity and actually keeping the bills paid. Jesse and his wife Astrid have recently purchased their very first home and are understandably excited to move into it along with their daughter Zooey. However, it quickly becomes clear that something about the spacious Texas mansion isn’t quite right.

Jesse and Astrid know that the house was so cheap because the couple that lived there previously died on the premises. What they don’t know is that the couple’s son Raymond was not only also in residence at the time, but spent two decades institutionalized for sacrificing another child to Satan prior to that. Then there are the increasingly menacing voices Jesse begins to hear once he and his family move in, not to mention the creepy fugue states he starts experiencing. What’s going on with Jesse and how is it connected his new home’s dark history?

Clearly The Devil’s Candy leverages some rather familiar tropes. You’ve got an unwitting family moving into a creepy house with a nefarious past. The protagonist experiences an increasingly troubling series of episodes, seemingly as a result of influences within the house. There’s a little bit of Satanic Panic thrown in for good measure as well. It’s hard not to be reminded of iconic horror films powered by similar themes such as Amityville Horror or Rosemary’s Baby. However, Candy somehow avoids feeling like a bona fide throwback to any of those.

Part of that is Byrne’s focused, sensitive treatment of the subject matter, characters, and spaces he’s working with. The Devil’s Candy is engaging both visually and sonically. Embry turns in a deep and smoldering performance as the sensitive but decidedly manly Jesse as well. In fact, it’s the depth Embry brings to his character that keeps this film from descending further than it needs to into some very dark territory.

Jesse can’t comprehend the emerging sinister personality inside of himself that paints terrifying Satanic visions while he’s in his fugue states, let alone reconcile it with who he knows himself to be as a husband and father. His ripped physique and depth of character contrast starkly with the roly-poly and immature Raymond, the other character that clearly has the attention of whatever menacing force infests the mansion. This contrast provides the basis for a rather compelling film. While The Devil’s Candy never quite seems to measure up to the expectations many viewers had going in, it definitely assures us that Byrne is indeed an exciting director to watch. We’re definitely excited to see what he cooks up next and we doubt we’re alone in that sentiment.

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