In THE DEVIL’S CANDY (2017), an artist and his family move into their dream home only to find that a dark force resides there, using people for slaughter that is its candy. I enjoyed this film quite a bit for its great characterization and execution. The violence is brutal but unlike many other horror films is always serves the film and never itself.
At the heart of the story is the relationship between artist Jesse (Ethan Embry nailing the role) and his daughter Zooey (Kiara Giasco), which is playful, shares a love of heavy metal, and is built on trust. The mom (Astrid, played by Shiri Appleby) appears to be the adult in the family, though she enjoys the play. This happy family buys their dream home in the country, which they get for a good price because the previous owners died in the house. What they don’t know is the previous owners were murdered by Ray (played to perfection by Pruitt Taylor Vince), who is hearing a constant droning voice commanding him to harvest children for its pleasure. This puts the family and Ray on a grisly collision course.
The result is a really solid horror film, with nothing about it seeming phoned in. The family is lovable and real, and you care about what happens to them. The film’s setup is as enjoyable to watch as its horror element thanks to a script that effectively makes you care. Though a monster, Ray is oddly sympathetic and vulnerable, an unwilling servant of his master’s needs. The director (Sean Byrne) did a great job delivering a good story, making excellent use of creating a sense of horror by allowing some of the most brutal violence to occur off screen until he was ready to show you everything (sometimes it really pays to let the viewer’s imagination do some of the work). The actors poured their hearts out into their roles. The climax is horrific, realistic, brutal, and satisfying.
In all, THE DEVIL’S CANDY isn’t the kind of movie I’d rave about, but it’s incredibly solid, a great horror watch, and shows indie filmmakers what they can do when they ignore Hollywood conventions and focus on the fundamentals of a great story, great direction, and great acting.