Celluloid Screams 2016: The Devil’s Candy Review
Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones) brings his second feature film to the big screen with a blood soaked, satanic offering, The Devil’s Candy. The movie centers on an unconventional family who move into a new home, unaware of the deadly secret it harbors and the impact it’s about to have on their lives. The Hellmen’s consist of self-employed artist and metalhead Dad Jesse (Ethan Embry), his patient, understanding wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and his chip off the old block young daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco). Immediately the family encompass a likable quality that keeps the audience involved in their story from the outset. Jesse is a Metallica loving, doting father, his relationship with Zooey is lovely to watch with his protectiveness towards her played as heart-warming. Once peril arises for the family in the form of the tormented former owner, Byrne’s direction effortlessly endears the audience to them but makes the villain (Pruitt Taylor Vince) interesting and complex enough to garner a slight empathy for him initially.
In comparison to The Loved Ones, The Devil’s Candy has a completely different tone. Whereas The Loved Ones is an extremely nasty and gritty watch, The Devil’s Candy is a more polished effort that doesn’t take the same uncomfortable turns as Byrne’s debut offering although it does come with its intense moments. In terms of the production quality, The Devil’s Candy demonstrates how Byrne has developed as a filmmaker. He uses striking visuals particularly the disturbing art work Jesse unveils that foreshadows dark events as they happen and what’s to come.
The plot is the kind we have seen before, with the creepy house setting and a terrorized family however it’s the core characters that make The Devil’s Candy a compelling film. Byrne writes them as multi-layered and relate-able. There is a strong sense that Jesse and Astrid are polar opposites in some respects, him the artist and her the career woman. She isn’t as fond of his taste in metal music as the daughter is however there’s an implied sense of her once having a rebellious nature in order for the attraction and relationship to work between them. As the troubled teenager Zooey is portrayed as having a strong supportive parental network behind her which is refreshing to see. In their own rights, each of them are strong characters and go out on a limb for each other. This isn’t a movie where it’s just the male character depicted as the heroic type.
There’s a distinct theme throughout of the relationship between horror and heavy metal that usually comes with a negative stigma attached relating to its association with violence. There’s such a positive portrayal in this film of characters who enjoy and consume dark material but on the outside they are the most grounded and genuine, every day people which was satisfying to see from two genres that normally receive a bad rep.
Byrne delivers something fresh which is a world away from The Loved Ones, cementing is versatility and growth as a filmmaker. Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby and Kiara Glasco are outstanding in their performances, bringing depth, emotion and shared chemistry to their characters. Glasco is a young actress to look out for and delivered the standout performance from a young performer in a genre film this year so far. Also, be sure to look out for a cameo from Leland Orser (Faults, The Guest).
The Devil’s Candy is absolutely awesome, a movie that ends with Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” at the end credits certainly rocks!!
Hayley Alice Roberts
This entry was posted on November 3, 2016 at 7:38 pm and is filed under Horror Festivals, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags Art and Horror, Celluloid Screams, Celluloid Screams 2016, Celluloid Screams Horror Festival, Ethan Embry, Kiara Glasco, Metallica, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Sean Byrne, Shiri Appleby, The Devil''s Candy, The Loved Ones. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.