The Devil’s Candy
Director: Sean Byrne
Writer: Sean Byrne
Cast: Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby, Kiara Glasco, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Craig Nigh, Marco Perella, Orion West, Mylinda Royer
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 31.10.2015
[Review by cornholio.]
Jesse (Ethan Embry), Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and their daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco) just bought a foreclosed house outside of the city. Even though Astrid and Zooey will have a longer commute that way, it gives them more space and Jesse, who is a painter, can have his own studio there. But there is something evil about the house. The previous owners died and their son Ray (Pruitt Taylor Vince), who seems to have a disability, can’t really stay away from his former home. But then Jesse starts hearing voices and painting weird things, as if something was taking over.
The Devil’s Candy worked very well for me – until the last ten minutes or so, where it falls so completely apart that it threatens even the good 80 minutes that came before.
As I said up until that incredibly stupid ending, I was completely with the film and enjoyed it a lot. It’s not free of mistakes – there are plotholes there and I hated the fact that Ray had to have a disability (it’s not clear whether it’s a mental illness or a developmental issue or both), as it suggest that either disability is the product of evil invading your mind or that having a disability makes you more susceptible to evil. Both are very dangerous associations to make.
But the movie has extremely strong visuals, great cinematography and near-perfect editing. Combined with characters that I actually liked and cared about (and Ethan Embry’s smoking hotness and oftentimes naked upper body), it is no surprise that I liked watching the film.
But then the ending happens. They had already reached the perfect, if completely bleak end point – with both Jesse and Astrid lying dead while Ray carries off Zooey to sacrifice her to the devil. But then both Astrid and Jesse – he with a bullet wound in the chest – get back up again and Jesse saves Zooey in an ultimate father-daughter trust exercise (that involves worried questions about Zooey’s well-being while they’re both standing in a burning room. And after Jesse is done saving Zooey (by now his bullet wound seems to have as good as disappeared), he has a divine vision and manages to find the bodies of the other childen Ray sacrificed in his time.
The movie ends with a frame that might as well have Jesus in huge blinking neon letters above Jesse’s head as he (blond, longish hair, bearded – the perfect representation of the racist Western image of Jesus) looks up into the sky and with me wanting to scream, laugh and cry all at the same time. That is just such a thoroughly weak ending that it actually tainted the rest of the film. And that’s just too bad.