Josh Hasty (director)
02 November 2019 (released)
03 November 2019
Candy Corn early on sets it stall very high as Lester/Dr Death (Pancho Moler) says to Jacob (Nate Chaney) ‘you’re one of us’ referencing Todd Browning’s 1932 classic Freaks. It’s a tall one and Candy Corn for various reasons doesn’t get anywhere near the pathos and power of that film.
The premise is relatively familiar with a carnival in town for Halloween with Dr Death white face-painted on stage speaking to empty chairs about his Spooktacular. It’s a filthy carnival with ugly hues and distinctly uninviting. But invite it does with the local bullies fulfilling their annual pledge to beat up local outcast Jacob (now employed at the carnival), only this time they go too far. Brought back to life Jacob sets about the bullies with the police several steps behind.
And that is pretty much it. The gang are a motely bunch of greasy hairs, bad clothes and 70’s porn star taches who are incredibly creepy and socially inept. The only female in the group is Carol (Madison Russ) who didn’t take part in the attack but confesses to the cops so setting herself up against the group. As the murders pile up the cops start to piece things together and secrets come light.
This is all done at a pace that could generously be described as leisurely, meanly as glacial. Whatever your take there is very little tension created and no real hint of menace. The killings aren’t the goriest you will ever see but the grim colour palate gives them a rawness that make them look unpleasant.
Freaks is directly referred to but the original Halloween provides shovel loads of inspiration from the theme music, the small-town street setting and the local cops cruising, in their cruisers. The problem is it palpably lacks any of the kinetic dynamic that drove that film forward.
The film is not terribly original in premise but the disappointment is in the languorous execution of the story and some of the acting doesn’t do justice to the effort and hard work that Josh Hasty put in as writer, director, music, editing and producing (and a few other things) clearly made.