M.L. Miller here! As I go into my tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Seven of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2016 and going through September 30, 2017. I have posted Best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on March 17, 2017! Available On Demand, digital download, & DVD here from IFC Midnight!
THE DEVIL’S CANDY (2015)
Directed by Sean Byrne
Written by Sean Byrne
Starring Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Kiara Glasco, Tony Amendola, Arthur Dale, Jack Dullnig, Shiela Bailey Lucas, Marco Perella, Richard Rollin, Jamie Tisdale
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Assaulting both the ears and the eyes with imagery and sounds out of the most depraved and diabolical nightmares, Sean Byrne’s THE DEVIL’S CANDY is an absolute treasure trove of scares!
Ethan Embry plays painter Jesse, husband to Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and cool father to Zooey (Kiara Glasco). When they move into a new home, Jesse begins hearing voices while he paints, the same type of voices the previous owner Ray Smilie (Pruitt Taylor Vince) used to hear while living in the house before he killed his elderly mother and father. Haunted by these voices and inspired to take a new dark path with his artwork, Jesse becomes obsessed, feeling the dark inspiration flow through him like a conduit in his painting. But while Jesse is being seduced by the voices, Ray returns home and that means terrible things for Jesse’s family.
This is a fantastic film. Start to finish, this is an assault on the eyes and ears with all sorts of sights and sounds I haven’t seen or heard before. Director Sean Byrne (who burst on the scene with the fantastic THE LOVED ONES) delivers a film that really does take you to new and frightening places. Be they faint satanic voices muttering in the background or Ray banging away at his guitar to drown them out, this is a film to be heard loud. The hard rock influences like the metal Jesse listens to while painting or the audio assault Ray uses to keep the voices away is ever present here and done so in a way that doesn’t feel cheesy as with metal films like TRICK OR TREAT.
The thing is, this film uses a well worn plot of a new family moving into a new house. Next to death and being fired, we all know moving is one of the biggest stressors to a person. I moved five years ago and vowed not to do it again for a while simply because it was so hard to up-earth everything and put it back into order somewhere else. Maybe that’s why so many films are about this weird process. Still, THE DEVIL’S CANDY is interesting that it chooses such a familiar path, yet it never feels stale.
This is mainly because of Ethan Embry is absolutely fantastic as the lead here. The actor has had a comeback of sorts with LATE PHASES, CHEAP THRILLS, THE WALKING DEAD, and that car commercial where he is pulling a Clark Griswald. Here he proves that he can be a solid lead, playing a flawed but absolutely likable person who definitely cares deeply about his family. Through Embry’s puppy dog eyes, even covered in stubble, tattoos, and paint, he shows how much he loves his family which proves to be the beating heart of this film and makes you follow it down its treacherous path.
Pruitt Taylor Vince, who previously has only appeared as the weirdo in snippets in films is rock solid with this much more substantial role as Ray. His tortured performance as a man tormented by these voices all his life and is now on the breaking point when a new family moves into the only place he called home is simply astounding. Vince delivers lines that are bone-chilling here and like Embry, hopefully this highlight of his talents will lead to more substantial roles of this kind. The rest of the cast is amazing as well, with Kiara Glasco delivering a really amazing turn as Zooey, Jesse’s rocker daughter. She is a young actress that will definitely go far and we will hear a lot about her in the coming years, I’m sure as her soulful performance of a youth trying to fit in despite her rebellious looks is layered and well done.
THE DEVIL’S CANDY is most astounding because this isn’t very much a ghost story as much as it is about flawed and over-stressed minds pushed to the breaking point. Ray believes he hears the devil, but we don’t see it. So those looking for a red painted horned guy are going to be disappointed. This is a film about the horrors unleashed from sick and obsessed minds, a much scarier version of horror than a ghost or monster story. THE DEVIL’S CANDY really taps into the dank and dark places inspiration often comes from and splashes it all over the screen. It captures the sometimes ugliness of the artistic process and of the human soul like few other films I’ve seen. I highly recommend THE DEVIL’S CANDY, it’s gorgeous and grotesque, poetic and unnerving, terrifically acted and splendidly directed. It’s an all-around fantastic horror film that needs to be seen by any horror and metal fan.
THE 2016-2017 COUNTDOWN!
#4 – THE DEVIL’S CANDY
#5 – THE EYES OF MY MOTHER
#6 – CAPTURE KILL RELEASE
#7 – THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE
#8 – IT CHAPTER ONE
#9 – THE VOID
#10 – SWEET SWEET LONELY GIRL
#11 – SAVAGELAND
#12 – IT COMES AT NIGHT
#13 – THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER
#14 – THE SIMILARS
#15 – HOWL
#16 – SEOUL STATION
#17 – THE TRANSFIGURATION
#18 – THE GREASY STRANGLER
#19 – I AM THE PRETTY THING IN THE HOUSE
#20 – ANNABELLE 2: CREATION
#21 – SPLIT
#22— TRASH FIRE
#23 – 47 METERS DOWN
#24 – HELL HOUSE LLC
#25 – THE SUBLET
#26 – PATCHWORK
#27 – IT STAINS THE SANDS RED
#28 – GERALD’S GAME
#29 – LAKE BODOM
#30 – NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE
#31 – THE EVIL WITHIN
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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