Running at only 79 minutes, Sean Byrne’s The Devil’s Candy manages to be uneventful and boring at the same time, as it tries to tell the story of a family that moves in a possessed house, while its father (Ethan Embry) gets possessed by the spirit of Satan, the daughter (Kiara Glasco) is stalked by Ray Smile (Pruitt Taylor Vince), the former owner of the house who murdered his mother after satanic forces possessed him.
The main reason why the film doesn’t work is that (yes, even with that short of a runtime), it takes way too long to get going. We get that the devil is possessing Jesse (Embry), as he paints satanic portraits of victims of Smile’s murderous rampages, but his character remains the same. He gets briefly possessed only when he paints, and his possession doesn’t have an impact with the story, except his tardivness at school when he needs to pick his daughter up, which causes her to be abducted by Smile. But his character doesn’t change, his personality remains the same and his character traits and mannerisms are of the exact similitude then when he’s not possessed. Add up a pretty hokey performance by Embry and you’ve got a bad lead.
You also have bad supporting actors. Glasco moves to one of the top worst female performances of 2017, with Naomi Scott in Power Rangers and Camille Mongeau in Tadoussac. Her performance is flat and her line delivery incredibly hackneyed. She basically plays an emo edgelord who has non-existent “problems” in her life because she moved in a new house. When she becomes abducted, her performance is riddled with fake, annoyingly loud screams and non-existent danger. You don’t care about her character because she portrays most of “edgy” horror movie characters of the modern 2010s. Thankfully, the only two good performances are Pruitt Taylor Vince as Ray Smile and Tony Amendola making a great extended cameo with a fantastic conversational scene with Embry as Leonard. Taylor Vince’s villain is incredibly menacing, and every scene involving the character is full of tension and unpredictability. Amendola’s sequence is great, but he’s only in the film for one brief sequence, but I wish the film was nothing but an hour long conversation with Amendola and Embry, it was much more interesting than the entire movie.
Thankfully, its last 20 minutes are terrific. The violence is raw and absolutely nuts at times, and will keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s a shame that the rest of The Devil’s Candy doesn’t quite well live up to its fantastic title and poster. Yes it has a great [metal] soundtrack and a tense final act (plus some good supporting performances), but it doesn’t compute the rest of the film and its boring first 59 minutes. It’s quite a shame, because the reviews for this have been calling it a “groundbreaking game-changer for genre cinema”, but it really isn’t. It’s just a run-of-the-mill, pedantically boring (and uneventful) “horror” movie that is best left unseen.