Directed by Sean Byrne [Other horror films: The Loved Ones (2009)]
This is a simple, digestible, yet highly intense and enjoyable, horror flick.
Directed by Sean Byrne (his first full-length movie being 2009’s The Loved Ones, another very solid movie), The Devil’s Candy is pretty straight and to the point, with a moderately short run-time and not all that many characters to play around with. Luckily, this low-fi approach doesn’t much hinder the movie, and in fact, makes the whole thing play out much more intense than I suspect it otherwise would have.
Music, be it heavy metal or deafening ambient, is used to fantastic effect throughout the film. Early on, the metal that daughter Zooey (played by Kiara Glasco) and her father, Jesse (Ethan Embry) bond over really humanizes them as characters, and who can’t help but smile at the mother’s (Shiri Appleby) amusement at the scene? It’s a good way to introduce the main characters of the film, and I think it gives them strong characterization from the off-set. Heavy ambiance is used to additional fantastic effect, especially toward the end – a loud boom, a few seconds pause, another loud boom. That alone assisted in ratcheting up the intensity.
And make no mistake, this movie is intense. While not all that gory, The Devil’s Candy certainly possesses a brutality to it, but also isn’t afraid to throw in some subtle, uncomfortable scenes. Much of the success of this is due to the actor’s fantastic performances.
Ethan Embry and Shiri Appleby both do a really good job, especially Embry during his more intense scenes when he’s spaced out. While both are solid, though, despite not having played all that many noteworthy roles, the true stars are both Kiara Glasco and Pruitt Taylor Vince. Glasco has had some roles in a few television shows (Bitten and Copper, though I’ve seen neither one), and does amazingly here, as we feel her urgency and desperation toward the end. She’s a lovable kid, her love of metal fun, and is a very memorable character. Glasco did very well with her portrayal. Vince is a known quantity, perhaps best known for his role in 2003’s Identity, and here, he’s appropriately creepy, menacing, and brutal.
What helps The Devil’s Candy out the most is the solid cast, and because that cast does so well, what on the surface might seem a simple movie is really an intense ride from start to finish. Because it’s a bit on the shorter side, nothing seems out of place or slow, and everything is paced well. Like I said, it’s a digestible movie that deserves all the praise it can get. One of the best horror movies I’ve seen from the last five years or so.