Candy Corn review – Halloween horror homage lacks scares or thrills

It might be hard to find a horror film as toothless and dull this year as Candy Corn.

The premise has some potential — an outcast (Nate Chaney) gets harassed and killed by local bullies and is resurrected to extract revenge — but it lacks the polish, performances and scares to make for an effective horror flick. It’s too by the numbers to be surprising and too safe when it should take some risks to make it more exciting or interesting.

In any revenge film the movie is only as good as the villains. The best really make you want to see them get what’s coming to them. In a horror film that’s in the most gruesome and bloody way possible. One of Candy Corn’s biggest problems is the bullies are terrible — both in their portrayal and performances.

candy corn movie review - jacob

Writer/Director Josh Hasty doesn’t do enough to develop the bullies. They’re basically four losers who make a Halloween tradition of harassing loner Jacob. That’s maybe enough character motive for a short film in an anthology, but for a full length feature that’s not enough meat on the bones. There’s a workaround if the actors can shoulder the load and make their underdeveloped characters obnoxious enough to overcome the weak material.

That’s definitely not the case here as the bullies, particularly lead goon Mike (Jimothy Beckholt) have negative charisma. Their performances range from flatly reciting the dialogue as if reading cue cards to over emphasizing the wrong words.

candy corn movie review - mike

Hasty seems to recognize that and puts most of the film on the back of Courtney Gaines (Faster) who plays Sheriff Gaines. This creates a weird dynamic as it’s clear Gaines is going to have no luck figuring out what’s happening and the bullies have to get killed off before he cracks the case. Tony Todd slums it up with a forgettable supporting role. Todd’s involvement might trick some folks to get excited thinking the film could have some fun. It does not.

Gaines actually has the right idea for a suspect, Dr. Death (Pancho Moler), the ringleader of a carnival freak show who hired Jacob and wants to take him on the road as a featured attraction. It’s hard to see how Dr. Death keeps the carnival afloat as the crowds are sparse even in the days leading up to Halloween. There’s an overall lack of people in general in the film making it feel far less of a town and more the film crew who could double as background performers for a particular scene.

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Jacob’s path of vengeance gets muddled as he starts killing innocents. That makes it weird as up until that point his actions — from a horror movie perspective — were completely justifiable. It seemed like Hasty realized he needed some more dismembered bodies and started throwing in some random characters to the fire.

candy corn movie review - courtney gaines

Hasty attempts to carve out some tension with a heavy dose of slow-motion and dramatic music, but it just makes the murders come across as super cheesy. One of the more puzzling aspects of the film is how Jacob gets around in broad daylight with no one spotting him despite his freaky jack-o-lantern like mask.

Cinematographer Ryan Lewis provides a classic 80s style presentation that provides that feeling of watching a horror movie you discovered at your local video store and popped in the VCR for some late night thrills. The visuals are definitely the best part of the film.

candy corn movie review - dr. death

It’s easy to see the vibe Hasty wants to achieve with Candy Corn, but the film never finds a sense of urgency or dread. Fundamentally, Hasty understands what goes into a decent horror film and with a stronger cast and script he could evolve into a quality horror/thriller director. For now, Candy Corn is stale and not nearly sweet enough for genre fans.

Rating: 3 out of 10

Photo Credit: Epic Pictures

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