Six years after exploding onto the
international horror scene with The Loved
Ones, Australian director Sean Byrne returns with this heavy-metal inspired
tale that combines possession, haunted houses and serial killers. Struggling
painter Jesse Hellman (played by Cheap Thrills’ Ethan Embry) moves his family
into a rural Texan pile with dreams of a better life, unaware that the house
they have just bought is the site of Satanic influence and child murder. When
the former occupier Ray Smiley (Taylor Vince) returns ‘home’ one night to find
the family firmly ensconced in their new abode, he sets his sights instead on their
metal-head daughter, Zooey (Glasco), as his next sacrifice to the dark lord. Beset
by disturbing visions, Jesse finds himself trying to save his own sanity while preventing
his daughter from becoming the titular ‘devil’s candy’.
heart, despite its heavy metal trimmings, Byrne’s first American movie is a
fairly – dare we say it - conservative scare show. Jesse may be a heavy metal
dad, but he’s otherwise as conventional as any Stephen King hero. A normal family
guy trying to do his best for his wife and kids but beset by unspeakable
horrors that are resolutely Other. There are token shades of The Amityville Horror as Jesse finds his
mental state deteriorating as a result of the house’s malefic influence, turning
his butterfly canvases into Hieronymus Bosch depictions of purgatory (a rather
hackneyed device, that); but Byrne refrains from casting any real doubts on our
hero’s inherent goodness, any genuine aspersions on his character. He’s no Jack
Nicholson in The Shining, doing
battle with the darkness within, and we are never really led to think he might do anything awful to his family.
Instead, the only truly bad guy in the film is Taylor Vince; and so The Devil’s Candy ends up playing out a
fairly run-of-the-mill home invasion scenario as the good family battle the evil
child killer doing Satan’s bidding.
a lot of Christian good vs. evil symbolism in the film, pitted against metal
music: crucifix versus the Gibson Flying V, for example; and for the most part
we’re not really sure whose side Byrne is really on. After all, Smiley likes
nothing more than to play guitar with the volume turned up to eleven, which must
surely mean it’s a conduit for the devil. Having said that, Jesse does
ultimately find vindication through his axe, which must also mean metal is a
force for good!
way, The Devil’s Candy is enjoyable
hokum; a mildly effective horror ride, but – it has to be said – somewhat tame
in comparison to The Loved Ones.
DEVIL’S CANDY (CELLULOID SCREAMS/MAYHEM FILM FESTIVAL) / CERT: TBA / DIRECTOR:
SEAN BYRNE / STARRING: ETHAN EMBRY, SHIRI APPLEBY, KIARA GLASCO, PRUITT TAYLOR
VINCE / RELEASE DATE: TBA
Expected Rating: 8/10