Getting stuck in a haunted house has never sounded so good.
Australian writer/director Sean Byrne’s (The Loved Ones) The Devil’s Candy is, for the most part, fairly recognisable horror fare. There’s a spooky house where a couple met their untimely death, a new, young family on the block, a mental patient who really shouldn’t be running around and a whole choir of demonic yowling.
There’s something amazing however that sets this apart from its predecessors, and that’s its soundtrack. Managing to secure hits from metal icons Metallica and Slayer, amongst others, the most resounding of chords pervades the entire picture, something best experienced with surround sound and the speakers at full pelt.
The metal-head family love their music, not least of all daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco of Maps to the Stars fame). In a small cast dominated by performers decades older than her, Glasco steals every scene she’s in, whether head-banging or terrifyingly coming face to face early on in a surprise confrontation that would make even horror die-hards cringe. A later scene involving Glasco and a reel of duct tape is the stand-out of a number of tense sequences and markedly Hitchcockian in nature – think the potato truck scene in Frenzy.
Weaving elements of metal lore and ideations of the occult, too a stalwart of horror fare, The Devil’s Candy uses their splendid library of hits for dramatic and shocking effect, focusing on the tunes and opting not to explore the greater underpinnings of religious-themed horror as expounded upon in iterations like The Omen. Not the only classic to which viewers could casually glean a comparison with Byrne’s latest, inspiration drawn from Halloween and The Shining is evident throughout, though the film has its own delectable twist of an ending, itself a hallmark of archetypal horror with the presence of some very creepy paintings playing a pivotal role.
Markedly a miscellany of horror’s greatest hits, the tropes here run thick and thin. It’s probably not a good idea to return and spend too much time at the location the deranged psychotic likes to visit, and when a situation looks like one where you should run, you should listen to the person who’s demonstrated some aptitude in escaping from said maniac, and run. Noticeably expendable characters rear their heads, a baseball bat is not utilized nearly as well as it should be and it is never, ever a good idea to hide in a closet.
Not detracting from the quality of the film, the panoply of horror mythos combined with the distinct affection for the many hits that came before make this all the more a treat for horror fanatics, while the inclusion and apt deployment of the eclectic soundtrack will delight horror and metal fans alike. As with most horror films however, it all comes down to the ending. Making no small use of its dominant theme and distinct stylings, this one’s a cracker.
The Devil’s Candy is screening as part of the Sydney Film Festival on Saturday 18 June – for tickets head to the Festival website