The Devil's Candy Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Written and directed by Sean Byrne
2015, 80 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on September 26th, 2017
Ethan Embry as Jesse
Shiri Appleby as Astrid
Kiara Glasco as Zooey
Pruitt Taylor Vince as Ray Smilie
Tony Amendola as Leonard
Leland Orser as Preacher
Jesse moves his wife Astrid and daughter Zooey into a large farmhouse where they hope to make a new life for themselves. He is a struggling artist, but quite a talented one. Jesse is also his daughter’s best friend and they bond over things like heavy metal music, to which mom shakes her head but is supportive all the same. Before long, the family meets Ray Smilie, former resident. He insists he needs to come home even though his parents have died. Jesse explains to Ray that he no longer lives here and sends him on his way. Ray returns in the night in response to the voices in his head that compel him to do bad things. The police are called and a disturbing back story is revealed. Jesse meanwhile has discovered a dark muse to inspire his paintings, but he does not necessarily approve of what he is creating. Ray is not done with the family yet, as he is convinced they can help his inner demons. How much can the family handle before they are forced to take matters into their own hands?
Writer/ director Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones) tells a straightforward story in a very refreshing way. He doesn’t bog things down with a lot of exposition, preferring instead to simply allow audiences to catch up from one scene to the next. This is a welcome manner of storytelling that is sorely neglected in today’s filmmaking. Byrne has a keen sense for character development and loads his tale with themes of passion, religion and mental illness. The script has its flaws, particularly when elements of the supernatural are shoehorned into the plot. The central story is strong enough on its own without resorting to gimmicks. Byrne keeps things moving and steadily ratchets up the tension as Ray grows more and more aggressive in his family visits.
Ethan Embry (The Guest) stars as Jesse, the man at the center of a spiraling nightmare as his family comes under repeated attack. He shares immediate chemistry with his young co-star Kiara Glasco (Maps to the Stars) playing Zooey. Glasco impresses as she displays a wide range of emotion in her scenes opposite her captor. Shiri Appleby (Swimfan) is relegated to the backseat more often than not, but manages to make a lasting impression as Astrid. The real star here is the always watchable Pruitt Taylor Vince (Jacob’s Ladder) as Ray Smilie, the man compelled to do some very bad things to kids. He brings a childlike innocence to the character and even merits sympathy from time to time, a testament to his talent as an actor. Vince is a seriously underrated actor in need of a lead, so it is nice to see him in another juicy role. Tony Amendola (Annabelle) and Leland Orser (Seven) appear in small supporting roles as an art dealer and a televangelist, respectively, and while they are welcome faces, their scenes add little to the film.
The Devil’s Candy is a slow burn with a solid payoff if you can get past the extraneous elements of the story. Byrne appears to have a bright future and is a filmmaker I suggest keeping an eye on. He knows how to keep an audience engaged and treats his characters with enough respect to not force them into clichéd behavior. Though not everything works, I found myself enjoying this picture more and more as it progressed. Do yourself a favor and take the time to check out this movie--I think you’ll like it too.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, this transfer is gorgeous. Cinematographer Simon Chapman brings a richness to the color palette and plays with lighting levels while frequently framing characters in various levels of darkness. Black levels are a bit too deep at times, but consistent with the tone of the feature.
Audio options include a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix. I prefer the 5.1 track, as it opens up the music and effects tracks and adds a bit more rumble to the presentation. Dialogue levels are clear and free from distortion.
Optional English or Spanish subtitles are included for anyone in need.
An audio commentary with Byrne is thoughtful and informative, albeit a bit dry. He has a lot to say about the making of his film and keeps things interesting, but the track would benefit by the inclusion of a cast or crew member joining him.
The Devil’s Candy VFX Behind the Scenes (3 minutes) with visual effects supervisor Johnny Han reveals how the climactic fire gags were accomplished by showing a series of raw footage, plate shots and fire elements shot separately.
The band Goya provides the song “Blackfire” to the soundtrack and the music video appears here. The video is compiled completely of footage from the movie.
Sean Byrne’s short film Advantage Satan (11 minutes) is a beautifully shot but an ultimately pointless story about the Devil’s tennis court.
An art gallery (3 minutes) offers a look at various design sketches and paintings featured in the film.
The film’s theatrical trailer is also included.