Candy Corn, 2019.
Directed by Josh Hasty.
Starring Courtney Gains, Caleb Thomas, Pancho Molder, P.J. Soles, and Tony Todd.
On Halloween weekend, a group of bullies plans their annual hazing on local outcast, Jacob Atkins. When they take things too far, Jacob is resurrected to seek revenge.
Four horrible characters are doing their yearly tradition on Halloween. Since they were kids, the group pulls a prank on someone. This time goes a bit different as they accidentally murder Jacob, an awkward and weird carnival worker they’ve known for years. That’s a relatively simple plot for a reasonably simple movie; you can’t go too wrong with a good slasher revenge story. Sadly, Candy Corn doesn’t elevate the material enough to be more than just another streaming horror movie.
The film feels like if Rob Zombie did an 80’s slasher more than his usual grindhouse/exploitation style. The aesthetic and tone of Candy Corn are lighter, replacing a lot of the grunge with brighter lit shots and less sleazy. The one thing similar to a Zombie film is the unlikeable characters.
Though, The Firefly Family is at least fun to watch. The group of bullies that we follow throughout the film is just downright obnoxious. From the walking hysterical woman trope Carol to the interchangeable trio of men, there’s little to bite into here.
Thankfully Pancho Moler – a Rob Zombie regular – is the scene-stealer in the film. Everything he was pitched, he knocked it out of the park. No matter what was asked, Pancho Moler understands it. I would watch his Doctor Death Sideshow Spookhouse Spectacular all evening.
John Hasty is the sole mind behind the film as he serves as editor, writer, and director. As mentioned earlier, Hasty very much feels like a student of the Rob Zombie school of filmmaking. There’s a lot of shock and awe, even some surprising gore along the way. But unlike some of Zombie’s better works, there’s not too much of a story here.
The whole format of the film felt off, with no real main character to follow. I’m all for presenting a story and allowing viewers to navigate on their own; here though, it’s hard to wrap your head around who matters. If Hasty would’ve focused on either Sheriff Sam or Doctor Death, the viewing experience would’ve been far better. Hell, even moving the movie towards just the horrible group of bullies and the reluctant Carol would give the film a bit more focus.
Where Hasty does stick the landing is with its monstrous killer. While he’s nowhere near the level of a Jason Voorhees or a Michael Myers, our jack-0-lantern masked slasher is pretty compelling. Honestly, with the excellent creature design and Pancho’s Doctor Death commanding him around, I would love to see these two characters again.
Candy Corn is un-even and feels more like a miss than a hit, but I can’t deny there’s something that endeared me through the viewing. If there’s anything to walk away with, John Hasty has a significant future in this industry. A debut like this surely lets him work in horror for quite some time.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★