March 23, 2017

VOD Review: The Devil's Candy (2017)

"Unsettling, headbanging greatness."
(aka The Haunted Guitar.)
Release Date: March 17th.
Rating: R
Country: USA
Written and Directed by: Sean Byrne.
Starring: Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby, Pruitt Taylor Vince, and Kiara Glasco.

Way back in 2009, writer/director Sean Byrne gave us his first film, and one that we consider to be a modern-day classic, The Loved Ones (review HERE.) Why it took him 7 years to follow that up with The Devil's Candy, I have no idea, but after seeing his sophomore effort, I have no problem with him taking another 7 years to make his third movie, because he apparently knows what he's doing.

*There might be very mild spoilers below, but I'll keep the plot details to a minimum so as not to spoil.

To escape the Satanic whispers that echo throughout his head, urging him to do bad things, a creepy guy plays the same note (or maybe it was 2?) on a Gibson Flying V guitar over and over again, at maximum volume. Pissed off in that he's dong this in the dead of night, his sister threatens to tell their Dad on him, and he beats her to death.

Enter a family of there who are looking to buy the house where the heinous act took place. Ethan Embry is the long-haired, tatted, heavy metal-loving Dad, Jesse, who is also a brilliant painter; Kiara Glasco is his headbanger-in-training daughter, Zooey, who you can tell thinks he's the coolest thing ever; and Shiri Appleby is the Mom, Astrid, who loves them both, but doesn't quite share their love of Metallica and Napalm Death. They get the house on the cheap, which has a big barn for Dad to work in... and also an evil presence which causes him to black out and paint some gruesome images of screaming children and upside down crosses.

When the creepy guy from the beginning shows up at the house, telling them that he needs to come home so that he can play his music loud for Satan, it's apparent that things are about to go from creepy to dangerous, and that somehow, the Devil will get his due. He always does.

From the beginning, this movie does two different things: it sets a dark and brutal tone with its opening scene, which carries on throughout the entire movie; and it makes us really love the family of innocents that are about to be pulled into a nightmarish scenario. In some ways, this movie had the same vibe about it that last year's The Blackcoat's Daughter (review HERE) did, in that a quiet, eerie, dread-filled fog hung over many of its scenes, creating a unique and uneasy atmosphere.

That family dynamic at work here is what makes the movie work so well though. There's no forced family drama between any of them, which is a massive plus for us, seeing as how the kids in these kinds of movies always tend to be moody and edgy to the point of us hating them. No, this family, while not perfect, loves each other, and they make us like them... which makes watching what they go through especially harrowing.

Ethan Embry. What do I say about this guy? With movies like Dutch, Empire Records, and Can't Hardly Wait, he established himself as the likable, funny kid, but somewhere in the mid 00's, he started showing up in movies like Vacancy, Cheap Thrills, and The Guest (not to mention playing Declan in the excellent, Brotherhood), and we really got to see his range. His performance in The Devil's Candy is so natural and good that it felt like, at least from our perspective, this was the role that he was born to play. Like Jesse is who Ethan Embry is in real life; a cool dude to hang with. He just rocked this one.

And let us not forget the awesome Pruitt Taylor Vince, who has made a career out of playing quirky and creepy characters, because he was about flawless here too. Play a terrifying character who kills kids for Satan, and still make us feel some sympathy for him? That's talent. And for someone so young, Kiara Glasco seems like someone who is in control of her craft. Add Shiri Appleby to the mix, and this is a cast that took some already great material, and elevated it with their performances.

What was the deal with Tony Amendola's character? Was he another of the Devil's emissaries, sent to tempt Jesse with "fame and fortune" at exactly the right time? We need answers!

Pruitt Taylor Vince has always given me nightmares. For real.

There's more violent and disturbing actions in this movie than there is overt bloodshed, but the blood and gore that is present feels like it was more than enough.

Ethan Embry spends a lot of time shirtless in this one. 

Any move that opens with Metallica's Am I Evil, and closes with For Whom the Bell Tolls is 100% our kind of flick. Heavy metal lovers will dig the hell out of this movie.

The Devil's Candy is a creepy and intense movie that is anchored by a top-notch performance or two, and given a solid layer of substance by focusing on its characters, which is something that you don't see very often in genre flicks like this, or at least not this well done.

This is absolutely a contender for movie of the year already, and while I have no doubt that plenty of other great ones will come along and dazzle us in different ways, The Devil's Candy is not one that we'll forget.


The Devil's Candy is in limited theaters, and is available on VOD now.

Shiri Appleby is still as lovely as ever, and Kiara Glasgow is bound to be a Hollywood beauty for years to come.


  1. The Devil's Candy, is truly a great movie. It was a good surprise, and it's one of the few films i've enjoyed from start to finish. The opening is really intense and strong, that gains your interest instantly.

    The whole film is surrounded by an eerie and evil atmosphere, giving the audience a big chill and creepy feeling, as the story unfolds.

    Plus, a movie with strictly Heavy Metal music, can't go wrong in any way. Pantera's, By Demons Be Driven, suits perfectly, not only by it's title, but for it's music too.
    Also we listen few seconds, of Slayer's, You Against You, from Repentless album, another masterpiece that adjusts amazingly in the movie.

    And a small correction for the author, the opening movie track, is Diamond Head's Am I Evil, covered by Metallica, and not Metallica's song.

    Your review is great by the way. Keep up the great work.

    Blazon Stone.

  2. Well-made film with some creepy ideas, but I can't stand movies where the main characters have never heard of guns and have never thought about self-defense. I guess that's true for half the country, but for the rest of us, it just seems silly.

    1. Dear John,

      if everybody had a gun, knew how to use them and used them, there would a lot fewer horror movies to be shot because if you have the means, the knowledge and the balls to defend yourself with a gun, it wouldn't be that easy to create an entertaining movie with people running around to avoid being killed by real persons for 90 minutes. And don't forget the skills to make the gunfight look good enough to please you.

      Dad used a bat and I believe that more people have a bat ready than a gun. At least, I WANT to believe that. But on a sidenote, I don't live in the USA. I might be wrong.

  3. You submitted the wrong 'link' I think for 'The Blackcoat's Daughter'. It doesn't work and takes me to some type of blogger settings page. Just a heads up

  4. I honestly was a little underwhelmed. It felt like metalica/pantera classic metal and satanist fan service. Just felt a little predictable and forced ya know? ALmost like an Amityville re-hash. The cinematography was nice and dark and that finished painting near the end was beautiful! Also, I'm sorry but Ethan Embry will forever be the kid from can't hardly wait.

  5. An intense movie which was very creepy without showing to much gruesome details of the murders of those unlucky children. Those images flashing by, accompanied by hard riffs, disturbed my mind enough that no more gore was needed. Amazing skills!