Director: Josh Hasty
Writer: Josh Hasty
Stars: Tony Todd, P.J. Soles, Courtney Gains
It’s Halloween weekend in a nondescript small town that is inhabited by token weird guy Jacob Atkins and the asshole kids who find enjoyment in their yearly tradition of hazing him. Also in town is a carnival with Dr. Death’s Sideshow Spook House Spectacular: with dark forces at work, all of these elements will collide together in a most unfortunate fashion.
While Jacob’s otherness seems to only be that he likes candy corn, the most polarizing candy of the season, he also appears to be the only target in this one horse town for Bobby and his minions. The son of the sheriff, Bobby is a typical bully who builds himself up by putting others down: he also seems wildly old to still be living at home, loafing off of his father and concocting idiotic, mean spirited stunts. Though not as enthusiastic, his three friends go along with the plan because “it’s tradition”. Carol is the only brain in this unit and though she says it doesn’t feel right to bully Jacob, she still goes along with the plan and then idly stands by when things get out of hand. Enter Dr. Death.
Played by Pancho Moler, Dr. Death never dies and he chooses to live a life travelling in a circus sideshow in an attempt to balance the justice scales between the alleged freaks of the world and the “normal” people. A dark ritual allows Dr. Death to bring Jacob back from the dead and this is when the revenge fuelled fun begins. Or, rather, it should.
From the earnest, well meaning sheriff (an excellent Courtney Gaines) to the wacky guy who just wants to kick it with the cool kids for a night of debauchery, all of the characters in Candy Corn are cut and paste iterations of a million and one other stories where bullies get their comeuppance. Writer/director/editor/music composer Josh Hasty has turned what could have very easily been a monster of the week X-Files episode into a feature length film that has a very aggressive anti-bullying message. Coupled together with ultra gory kill scenes that feature impressive effects work, Candy Corn has everything that would promise a great gut punch of a film, but the self seriousness of the movie is distracting. And in 2019, a film that treats the main female character with so much disdain only to kill her in her underwear is beyond disappointing.
The fluctuation between a depressing bullying story and the excellent/campy kills makes it hard to invest in the movie as a whole and the fact that Hasty managed to snag genre veterans Gaines, PJ Soles and Tony Todd only amplifies the lack of experience in some of the other actors. Much like Malcolm McDowell, Todd just shows up in horror movies because he can. You’re excited to see him, but ultimately, he’s just a name on the poster. Soles appears to have been binge watching Twin Peaks before taking on the role of Marcy and it’s a joy to behold. In fact, Gaines, Soles and Moler rescue the film from being another forgettable revenge film, but only by a small margin. It’s clear that Hasty has a lot to say and a lot of people in the genre support him, so it will be interesting to see what his next feature brings.
Images: Epic Pictures
Images: Epic Pictures