The Devil's Candy follows a family of three that moves into a new home with a violent past. Soon after moving in, the father (Ethan Embry), a self-employed artist, begins to experience visions and paints disturbing masterpieces with no memory of working on them. Meanwhile, a madman seemingly possessed by a dark entity is stalking children and our family's only daughter. How are these paintings related to the serial killer? Will the family become a victim to the killer?
The Devil's Candy Review
This film a great example of taking horror tropes and pushing them subtly in new directions that make it refreshing and engaging. Let's start with the setting, because it is the only weak element of the film. It's all-too familiar. Family buys a new home verging on rural. House has a dark past. Family is haunted by the house's past. Ok...now that we got that out of the way and you're done rolling your eyes, sit back and enjoy one of the best horror films of 2017.
I can't say enough for the casting and acting of this film. From horror supporting cast stalwart Pruitt Taylor Vince, to up-and-comer Kiara Glasco, this film's story is carried by its performances fantastically. This film is about the influence of supernatural forces on our lives. It's obvious to us the audience that we see suffering from beyond on realm, but this family is trying to cope and survive in such a real way that it connects you as a viewer in a way most films don't. The family refrains from outlandish decisions. They fight for each other. They feel for each other.
And perhaps the greatest testament to this film's superiority in character development is the daughter, Zooey (Glasco). Not only is Glasco a prodigy for the horror/thriller set, but her ability far exceeds her age. Equally important is the way her character is written. We have a teen obsessed with metal, moving into a rural home and being introduced to a new school. 10 out of 10 times in a horror movie, that's the conventional recipe for the uncanny angsty teen trope. Instead, we get a girl who...get this...UNDERSTANDS the situation and, although it sucks, doesn't blame her parents and instead copes with the situations and falls back on her parents, even when they fail.
This is a horror movie, but it is as unorthodox as it is traditional. Despite Satan's involvement and a serial killer on the loose, you have to come into this movie with the understanding that the terror is behind the glass of our world. It's a truly haunting perspective, that we know there are dark forces pulling the strings (emphasized by a disturbing voice that chants behind the ears of Embry and Pruitt's characters), but what we see is their impact, not them. It is what makes the film all the more terrifying. This is reality. What is happening is something that happens every day. The only spin is where this film is saying it's coming from.
It's the reality of this film that drives it. That comes from effective story development, a cast that leaves everything on stage, and a talented director (Sean Byrne, The Loved Ones) that knows how to convey his vision. I can't say enough for the power of this film as a piece of cinema. It is another film I say should be added to the standard for which horror can achieve.
I could be wrong, but I couldn't help but bring up this element of the film I happened to catch. Throughout the film, Jesse (Embry) is experiencing visions and blackouts while he's painting his mural of malevolence. Most of the time you assume he is under the influence of the same entity that is driving Ray (Pruitt), but I began to wonder...maybe that's not the case. Eventually you realize that Jesse isn't "giving in" to this force like, say, The Amityville Horror. And the force isn't driving him to a state of violence and madness. Rather, it appears to be warning him of the events to come.
Jesse nearly gives into the temptation of the supernatural muse's assistance to cash in on the sin of greed, but he inevitably chooses his family. It's a supernatural scenario in a very real instance of life choices. And when we get to the end of the film, Jesse is fighting Ray, and we have a moment of good versus evil. It's at this point that it feels clear to me...while the film emphasizes the influence of demonic forces on Ray, we are subtly getting the instance of an angelic force assisting the other side. It's never stated, but it is implied through the story. And I find that to be an eye-opening perspective. We always focus on demons pushing us down, but what about the angels that want to help us back up?
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 8/10