Josh Hasty’s new horror movie Candy Corn has all the trappings one would normally want out of a Halloween-set horror movie. Colorful fall leaves? Check. Jack o’ lanterns aplenty? Check. Bloody, gory kills? Double-check. But while it has these in spades, what it lacks is the vibrancy and surprise one wants to see in a movie playing in such familiar territory.
The movie concerns a group of friends who have a tradition of bullying a local boy that they consider a freak. They’re all a little old for this, but their ringleader convinces them to join him for one last hazing. Things go wrong this time, and the young man, Jacob Atkins, dies at their hands. He doesn’t stay dead for long though, as he is brought back to life by a sideshow ringmaster by the name of Dr. Death (Pancho Moler). While the sheriff, played by Courtney Gains, investigates, the tormentors are dispatched one by one by the undead Jacob. And he does so in spectacularly bloody fashion. The gore gags are not to be missed, as they, and the film’s electro Carpenter-esque score, are the movie’s high points.
Director Josh Hasty, who toiled through a troubled production to get this flick onto the screen, has much to work with but doesn’t make hay with it. Horror legends Tony Todd and P.J. Soles are always welcome sights on screen but neither here is given much to do, as they toil away in thankless roles. Pancho Moler’s Dr. Death should be an iconic villain, but instead is a forgettable nuisance not given much thought by the viewer, as the plot progresses.
The kills, as I mentioned earlier, must be seen to be believed. Bloody and brutal, they’ll have the seasoned horror hound smiling and laughing at their audacity. From beheadings to limb removals, Jacob takes out each victim in a different and entertaining fashion.
I had high hopes for Candy Corn, given the setting, story and the talent involved. The movie did not live up to those expectations, sadly. What could have been an instant horror classic or even just a cool, little slasher turned out to be a wan genre effort bound to be forgotten by all but the most diehard of horror fans.
Recommended if you liked: Trick ‘r Treat, Halloween, Lady in White
FINAL GRADE: C
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