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In 1983, financially struggling college student Samantha Hughes takes a strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse. She slowly realizes her clients harbor a terrifying secret, putting her life in mortal danger.
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Metal music, wet paint, and family are the passions of Jesse, a struggling painter who lives a happy life with his wife, Astrid, and their preteen daughter, Zooey. And things look even brighter when Jesse and Astrid are able to put in a bid on their dream home - a huge property in rural Texas with a barn big enough for a proper art studio - after the price is driven down due to the home's mysterious past. After the trio moves in, Jesse's work starts taking on a new, considerably darker flavour - and things get even more ominous when Ray, the hulking, clearly unbalanced son of the deceased former owners, appears on the doorstep one night, clutching a red electric guitar and asking to "return home." It soon becomes clear that Ray and Jesse are both being influenced by the same satanic forces, and that Jesse's family won't be safe until they find a way to quiet the Devil himself.Written by
A struggling painter (Ethan Embry) is possessed by supernatural forces after he and his young family move into their dream home in rural Texas (just north of Austin), in this creepy haunted-house tale.
First and foremost, this film deserves credit for working in the metal-horror connection. You don't have to enjoy metal to enjoy this movie, but I think it helps. One reason the 1980s were a great decade for horror is because it was also a great decade for punk and metal. "Devil's Candy" doesn't try to be an 80s throwback, but does offer something of a modern equivalent.
Leading us through the film is Ethan Embry. Like many others, my love for Embry is strong. Not to pigeon-hole him, but he has been in a number of horror films in the last decade (such as the brilliant "Late Phases") and as part of the horror community I'd like to claim him as one of ours. Fans of "Grace and Frankie" may fight me, but we would all agree he is a great actor and truly underrate. Casey Affleck an Oscar contender? Really? Embry emotes with his eyes in way that few others can -- we have seen him sensitive, petrified, terrifying, and everything else. Some of that we see in this film (though luckily for us he is more on the good side this time around).
And countering Embry is Pruitt Taylor Vince, who unfortunately is probably best known as a "character actor" who has one of those faces you have seen 100 times but don't know the name. If this is you, make this the movie you start remembering Vince for. Holy smokes. He has had a handful of "idiot" or "incompetent" roles, but he really turns it on here, making us wonder just how much he is tormented inside and having pity on him, even though we know within the first five minutes that he is a tool of the devil.
The plot is thin, but not necessarily in a bad way. Rather than get bogged down or become too cerebral, "Devil's Candy" prefers to keep the pace moving so we can get punched in the face over and over again in its relatively short running time. You like cerebral horror? Great, we can watch "Frailty". This is not that film. But it is one filled with rich atmospheric cinematography and a dark, yet vibrant color palette (if such a combination is possible). With all due respect to writer-director Sean Byrne, it is cinematographer Simon Chapman who sold me on this film.
The only thing that left me wondering, is why did the film take so long for a proper release? Beginning in 2015, it was floating around film festivals, receiving praise. The journey continued throughout 2016, and we finally see a release from IFC in March 2017. I suspect maybe it was securing the music budget, as getting the rights to put Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" on DVD is probably not cheap. But what do I know? Regardless, IFC must be thanked for getting this out to the masses. Perhaps not the best horror film coming out on home video this year, but I assure you it is far from the worst. Any horror fan who has 90 minutes to spare would be investing their time wisely with "The Devil's Candy".
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