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TIFF Report: The Devil’s Candy

Who’s in it: Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby, Pruitt Taylor Vince, and Bitten‘s Kiara Glasco

Who’s behind it: Written and directed by Sean Byrne

Who’ll love it: Horror fans with a taste for slow-burning dread, possession, and heavy metal.

What it’s about: Along with his wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and their daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco), struggling painter Jesse (Ethan Embry, now a dead ringer for a bearded Matthew McConaughey) moves into a new home, hoping for a period of inspiration and productivity. Instead, his family is pursued by one of the house’s deranged former residents (Pruitt Taylor Vince)—and the satanic forces that made him that way. After paying a mysterious visit late one night, this man becomes obsessed with Zooey. In this time of crisis, she needs her father more than ever, but he is lost in a mysterious battle of his own. This makes everyone more vulnerable, perfectly setting the stage for the film’s nail-biting finale.

Why you should see it: After its unsettling opening, The Devil’s Candy introduces its amusingly unconventional family of metalheads, giving them plenty of time to calmly settle into their idyllic new home. But once director Sean Byrne starts building toward their downward spiral, he never lets up. In Pruitt Taylor Vince, he has a genuinely scary, unsettling villain. Rather than rack up a heavy body count, he focuses most of his attention on a single target, establishing a dread early on that lingers and builds throughout the film’s second half. It took writer-director Sean Byrne six years to follow festival favourite The Loved Ones, but The Devil’s Candy cements his reputation as a horror director that genre fans can’t possibly ignore.

When you can see it: Saturday, September 19 at 1:15pm at Scotiabank Theatre. Tickets available here.