Somehow, someway Sean Byrne hasn’t made a movie since his genre-favorite debuted back in 2009—eight years is a long time to wait, which is why The Devil’s Candy has been so highly anticipated among horror fans, especially so after a film as masterfully nutty as The Loved Ones. In it, a struggling painter is possessed by satanic forces after he and his young family move into their dream home in rural Texas.
The devil is making a comeback. Okay so he never really left, I’ll give you that, but the recent surge of satanic-driven stories like The Witch, The Wailing and The Blackcoat’s Daughter (just to name a few) show that the ol’ Prince of Darkness has been on the mind lately. It’s all right there in the title—The Devil’s Candy is about how the devil lives through every single one of us, and how easily we can be devoured by his evil. It’s not a new idea by any means, but Byrne’s straightforward approach to how freely wickedness lurks into our lives works as a way to remind us that the devil can be anywhere; and that he is, at least that’s the case for Jesse and his family.
As soon as they move into their new home—a farmhouse with charm, set directly in the middle of nowhere—Jesse is confronted with its evil past, one that ended in the bloody hands of a man possessed by the devil. It’s no wonder they got such a good deal on the house! And that’s pretty much all the stage-setting Byrne does here, opting to let the narrative go in a straight, razor-sharp line rather than focus on the smaller details. And it makes sense, too, because the story itself is constructed a lot like the very thing that inspires its protagonist—heavy metal. It moves at a gnarly pace, cutting its 80 minutes into nasty cocktail that’s part possession, haunted house, and slasher.
And while certain aspects of the story take a back seat because of it—character development is minimal and some major parts of the plot are left out—it’s hard not to get completely enveloped with its savage, in-your-face style of storytelling (at least for me, anyway). There’s just something about that genuine out-for-blood mentality that when you put in the right hands can looks a lot like this—a twisted and totally insane exploration of what happens when you bow to evil. Look, it’s an 80 minute horror movie, a lot could have gone wrong here. But where it lacks in world building, it makes up for in its headbanging, kill ’em all attitude. I can dig that.