THE CANDY WITCH (2020)
Directed by Rebecca Matthews
Written by Scott Jeffrey
Starring Jon Callaway, Abi Casson Thompson, Kate Lush, Heather Jackson, Richard D. Myers, Will Stanton, Hannah Ponting, Shawn C. Phillips, Jon-Scott Clark, Kate Milner Evans, Hattie Willow, Barbara Dabson, Shakil Hussain, Richard Harfst
It’s pretty bad when the biggest and best scare of a film happens in the first five minutes and even that is a blatant rip-off of LIGHTS OUT. After that first jump scare, which I must admit, got me big time, THE CANDY WITCH dissolves into a narrative and technical mess of a movie.
The story…sort of focuses on a paranormal investigator named Reece (Jon Callaway) and his fellow investigator/girlfriend Kat (Abi Casson Thompson) who are called to check out a ghostly presence in the home of Ruth (Heather Jackson). Ruth and her family were plagued by an evil spirit they have dubbed the Candy Witch (played by Kate Lush) and the hauntings have started up again. Ruth wants Reece and Kat to just get rid of the witch, but the paranormal investigators have a different approach to ghost busting that involves listening to the ghosts and trying to figure out why they are hanging around. Meanwhile, the Candy Witch is tormenting Ruth’s family and those they love.
Right from the beginning, it was difficult to get into THE CANDY WITCH because the two leads look like they were ripped right from the runway. It’s like Zoolander and Daryl Hannah are running around looking for spooks and because these people are so pretty, it just doesn’t have the gravitas had the cast not had rippled abs and Blue Steel looks. It’s just hard to take these two seriously. They aren’t terrible actors, just too pretty and done up to be believable as outcast investigators looking for likes on social media and angsting over the weight of having this power to converse with the other side. It doesn’t add any gravitas that they are immediately given a Rated G love scene that highlights Callaway’s abs and chest as if they were the most expensive special effect that the film has.
The story is all over the place. It involves past sins, weird fetishes, hidden truths, and familial lies. But none of it really makes sense. Eventually, we are supposed to empathize with the Candy Witch as her life before she died was filled with all kinds of problems. But then again, she’s going around murdering people in heinous ways. So it’s really hard to feel for this witch. There also seems to be a plotline added in focusing on Reece and Kat’s website getting traffic that doesn’t really put them in the best light either as it makes their cause less noble and more about profit and fame. This is really evident in the end when the camera focuses on the investigators’ reaction to the attention this ordeal they just took part in starts trending.
Morally erratic and narratively lost, THE CANDY WITCH just isn’t my bag of treats. I appreciate naming the characters after candy bars. That was the only inkling of cleverness that appears in the film though. The murders are random and seemingly placed in the story to have a scare happen every five minutes. The witch is utterly generic looking with bad barn makeup pasted on her face. And the filmmakers seem to want this film to be some kind of riff on THE CONJURING by way of GRETEL & HANSEL, but unfortunately, aside from one lifted jump scare, I hardly had a reaction to THE CANDY WITCH.