Review: A fatherly painter, Jesse Hellman (Ethan Embry), who happens to be a death metal aficionado, moves to a bigger, new house along with his wife, Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and his ‘daddy’s little wanna-be’ daughter, Zooey (Kiara Glasco). With beard like Jesus and skinny, tattooed body – almost always naked or wrapped with either Metallica or Slayer tees, Jesse is instantly possessed by an unseen power which makes him paint a satanic figure devours suffering children.
On the opposite end, an overweight, mentally disturbed man, Ray Smile (Pruitt Taylor Vince), who almost always wears red tracking suit, is plagued by the satanic voice. Pleasing his lord/taunting Jesus with full-amped distortion from his Gibson Flying V is one thing that the voice told him to; his main goal is: killing children because they are the devil’s candy.
Two opposite figure is interlocked and confronted for one reason: Zooey. Ray wants her for his master’s candy; while Jesse is, after all, her super-loving father (who says ‘good bye’ to her daughter with horns sign and deeply apologizes for coming late to pick her from school) who is eager to save her.
The plot is basically simple; it’s a standard ‘an unknown force made me do it’ trope from two different strong leads. Everything happens rapidly in The Devil’s Candy – from moving to a new house, to the possession state; a few blink of an eye, a murderous character who becomes Jesse’s dark reflection appears; another blink, then there’s a murder scene in which the murderer butchers children with saw. But, it’s not your usual haunted house horrors; basically, it’s about a family man’s protecting his family from a loose, demon-possessed serial killer.
Ethan Embry’s a perfect man to portray a man with perfect concerns to his family despite his imperfect circumstances. His character might have been possessed as his strokes to canvas juxtaposed with Ray Smile’s butchering on screen; but, once he sets free from it; first thing he remembers is his daughter. The gap between his possessed imagination and his responsibility to protect his daughter is actually what this film is all about; and it can only be justified by Embry’s cathartic performance.
One more thing: if Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room associates Nazi Punk with brutal violence; Sean Byrne takes liberty to mend the gap between horror and death metal. After all, death metal and horror films draw mutual fascination towards evil entity; and with beautifully crafted scenes per scenes – which might serve an 80-minute music video for Pantera or Ghost – The Devil’s Candy shares the pace and gory details. It’s blaring and riffing heavily with amplified distortion.
As the final shot unravels a question about what power actually drives Jesse and the credit rolls, we’ve just realized that we’ve witnessed a cleverly executed story that feels metal as damn.