MOVIE: THE DEVIL'S CANDY
STARRING: ETHAN EMBRY; SHIRI APPLEBY; PRUITT TAYLOR VINCE; KIARA GLASCO
DIRECTED BY: SEAN BYRNE
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
The Devil's Candy is a movie that is the complete manifestation of the word disturbing. The newest film from Australian director Sean Byrne, is a unique blend of horror, that is not typical to what the genre has displayed these days. More recent movies have made it about jump scares, lurking creatures, or the newest installment in a horror franchise. The Devil's Candy on the other hand, focuses on deeper subject matters, where a father struggles with his ability to provide and protect his family; whether it's financially or from demons both inside his home. The terror and the themes here feel all too realistic, as The Devil's Candy is easily one of the scariest home invasion films I have seen since 2011's You're Next.
Ethan Embry (Can't Hardly Wait) stars as Jesse Hellman, an artist who's stopped painting his heavy metal inspired work, and is taking assignments with colorful butterfly's just to put food on the table for his wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco). Together as a family, they decide to move into an enormous farm house, complete with a large studio for Jesse's work, and a place they can call their own. Only problem, it was the place once owned by a family whose parents were brutally murdered by their son- Ray Smilie (Pruitt Taylor Vince). He is a bald, jittery man, that has been haunted by an evil spirit in the house, possessing his mind, and causing him to do terrible atrocities. Eventually, this demon latches onto Jesse, clouding his mind, but inspiring his painting to new heights. When Smilie returns to the home to exercise his own demon, it becomes an intense family fight for survival.
Not to be overshadowed, are the performances from Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby, and young up and comer Kiara Glasco. The relationship between these three is a believable family dynamic, with Embry's work stealing the spotlight, spending his screen time mainly shirtless, with his muscular body in front of a painting that haunts him in his sleep. Appleby, handles the mother role with a steady worry for the families financial situations, while Glasco's work as daughter Zooey is promising, as her character adapts to a new school and delivers blood curdling screams when she is the victim of the attackers rage.
Typically, a movie of this nature is not my cup of tea. Scenarios in films involving child abduction, mental disability, and home invasions can cross the line of poor taste. What director/writer Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones) does extremely well, is draw out a deep empathy for Jesse as a father. He is living off his passion for painting, has long hair that looks right out of a Rob Zombie film, and shares an adorable love for heavy metal music with Zooey. His inability to protect the family haunts him, while his search to find an inspiration makes him a vulnerable person to the demon. And even though the killer is the embodiment of evil, his story comes equipped with a layer of sadness. Everything in The Devil's Candy is honestly portrayed, to the point where you appreciate the realistic fear it injects into your nerves. The disturbing parts, those may turn some audience members off, but it cannot be denied that Byrne achieves the goal of making it hard for you to sleep at night.
Make no mistake about it, The Devil's Candy is the most unsettling film of 2017. It's not one of the easiest films to swallow, but it has excellent production value, including cinematography from Simon Chapman that resembles Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the quiet fear of Michael Flanagan's Hush. All of these collective things are just reasons why Sean Byrne is at the top of all must-hire director lists and The Devil's Candy is one of the best horror films of 2017.
Written by: Leo Brady