Metal and horror go together like peanut butter and jelly. As cliché as that sounds, there’s no better way to put it. From graphic album covers to “shock rock” acts such as Alice Cooper or Gwar, rock and roll/metal and horror are like two peas in a pod. There’ve been multiple 80’s horror films that took advantage of this trend, such as Return of the Living Dead and, my personal favorite, Trick or Treat (known as Ragman in other countries). Take everything you know about these hair metal/glamour punk classics and throw them out the window when it comes to Sean Byrne’s The Devil’s Candy. This film is a love letter to the seedy underside of metal and plays up its link to the “darkside”.
Ethan Embry stars as Jesse Hellman, a loving family man, metalhead, and artist. Along with wife and daughter (Shiri Appleby and Kiara Glasco), Jesse finds a perfect place to relocate his family; large art studio included. It just so happens that this place used to be home to Ray Smilie (Pruitt Taylor Vince), a man whose “hearing voices” problem rivals that of the most terrifying serial killers. Now, Mr. Smilie wants to come home.
Listen, I know what you’re thinking, “Dylan, that was the worst synopsis you could have ever written”. You’d be right, I can’t do this film true justice without going into spoiler territory. Besides seeing the trailer I went into this film completely blind and I left 100% satisfied. The use of metal as a plot device as one of our characters plays “doom metal” type riffs to drown out the unwanted sounds screaming in his mind is one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever seen a writer or director make. This film is truly haunting and once you find out what “the devil’s candy” actually is you’ll be dreading every step this movie takes.
The performances are top notch! Embry as a loving father and struggling artist truly draws in anyone who’s been in that position themselves. Not to mention he’s able to mix this depressing portrayal with a badass metal head ready to stop at nothing to protect his family. There’s a scene at the end that has solidified Embry as one of my favorite actors of all time. Now, Pruitt Taylor Vince puts on a performance that chills me to the bone even as I’m typing this. His character is downright disgusting but you can’t help but feel sorry for the man in specific instances. Shiri Appleby and Kiara Glasco, round out our small cast of main characters as mother and daughter. I’m not extremely familiar with either of their past work but based on their performances here I’m looking forward to both of them respectively.
Sean Byrne killed it when it comes to The Devil’s Candy. There’s no other way to put it. From the soundtrack, to the performances, to the visual excellence throughout the film; this was a top-notch horror film. It was a perfect tribute to the occult films of the 70’s while still remaining incredibly unique. I’ll definitely be returning after the film has released for a spoiler filled review, but until then check this movie out as soon as you can.
The Devil’s Candy hits VOD and select theaters on March 17th!
Obsessed with all things horror, video games, comics and vinyl, Dylan has been surrounded by all things geek culture since birth. Along with writing for Icon Versus Icon he’s also the co-host for the year long Christmas podcast, “Christmas 365”.
“No wimps. No False Metal.”