When Tipper Gore founded her Parents Music Resource Center in 1985 with the goal of routing out evil messages in heavy-metal lyrics, she was no doubt praying for a movie like The Devil’s Candy to come along; it’s basically her worst dream come true. (This is
meant as high praise.)
In the film, a small nuclear family relocates to rural Texas, where their sprawling farmhouse and barn should give frequently shirtless artist dad Jesse (Ethan Embry) plenty of room to work. He blasts his Metallica and Pantera albums; his teenage daughter bangs her head along with him—a like-minded soul. Mom smiles in acceptance. But what are those deep-toned voices creeping into the mix? Why are Jesse’s paintings, typically of butterflies, suddenly replete with screaming faces and inverted crosses? And who’s the scary dude with the vintage Gibson Flying V guitar who keeps showing up at their doorstep?
Sean Byrne’s assured second feature—a triumph of sound design and creeping minimalism—is so in on the satanic joke, it sometimes feels like a comedy. In its final turn, it brings the pain; it’s definitely a horror movie but a wonderfully witty one, not for gentle souls.
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