One Month At A Time

October Films! “The Devil’s Candy”

I’ve got a bit of a backlog of movies to report on. There’s been some time to watch spooky stuff, but not much time to write about it.

“The Devil’s Candy” is a film that has come up a couple of times on Facebook. A few of my Facebook pals have spoken highly of it. So, sure, I decided to give it a try.

Released in 2015, the film stars Ethan Embry, an actor I remember from the 90s films “Can’t Hardly Wait,” “That Thing You Do,” and “Empire Records.”

He was also in “Dutch.”

I remember him as kind of a wide-eyed, sort of goofy, but generally likeable character actor, but I lost track of him somewhere around 2000, where he moved on to more serious stuff.

With the stringy blond hair, ragged beard and tattoos, Embry is barely recognizable as the approaching middle-age metal-head father and painter, Jesse Hellman, in “The Devil’s Candy,” though his character has some of the same earnestness that you see in his earlier work.

The story revolves around Jesse, his wife and daughter moving into an old house with a bad history. The previous owners died –apparently by accident, everyone in the film believes (though we know different).

It’s a nice house and “Gee, wouldn’t it be a shame to let the place go to waste just because of a couple of dead people?”

This all seems like stupid horror film logic, but then again, I’ve been through the whole home buying process. When you’re looking for some place half decent that’s in your budget, you’re willing to put up with a lot.

I’d be OK with some dead people just to have some better windows. Cultists could definitely have tried to call up C’thulhu at some point, if it would have knocked a hundred bucks a month off my mortgage.

It beats renting.

Boiled down, the thread of “Hard Candy” follows bad things are happening, a reluctant serial killer serves the devil, loiters around the family home, which used to belong to his parents.

The cops know about the serial killer, of course, but seem to figure that it was just a phase, something he did when he was a kid, but he’s fine now, except for creeping everyone out.

Then things get worse. People die. There is some teen angst and Mom isn’t a huge fan of heavy metal music for some reason, though she’s married to a guy who looks he’s a roadie for Slayer.

How does that even happen?

“The Devil’s Candy” is fun, but it is also a mess. There’s a vein of demon possession or demonic influence that may be connected to the house, to Pruitt Taylor Vince’s tortured serial killer character or even to Jesse, but then there’s the issue with the painting Embry’s character is working on.

Is it prophesy, a warning, a love letter from hell?

Who can say? Maybe all three. Maybe something else.

And what’s the deal with the art dealer (played by an uncredited F. Murray Abraham) named Belial, who shows up to maybe tempt Jesse?

Thanks to a good long time spent playing “Dungeons and Dragons,” I know the name Belial belongs to a Duke of Hell. So all the hours spent reading the “Monster Manual II” during high school weren’t wasted.

Abraham is there, he pours a couple of drinks, and splits without accomplishing a lot, except maybe saying again that the devil is involved with Jesse on a very personal level.

It has to be the name, Jesse Hellman. He’s Hell’s man, get it?

Anyway, the ending almost feels like something out of a Kirk Cameron film. I wasn’t satisfied with it and felt like it was a cop out.

As I said, “The Devil’s Candy” is fun, but not particularly smart. The acting is good, even if the story could have used some fine tuning.

You can find “The Devil’s Candy” on Netflix.

October Horror Films Return!

Through the month of October, “One Month at a Time” will be watching lots of seasonal horror films and sharing our (my) findings.

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t watched a lot of scary movies lately. I used to watch them by the metric ton, back when there were things called video stores, but with the decline of the brick and mortar places, I’ve fallen into watching whatever is on Netflix or Amazon.

The experience isn’t the same and also, with so many choices, it’s hard to find anything actually worth watching.

On the one hand, it’s awesome that obscure indie directors can get their low budget, hand-crafted movies out to where people can watch them. On the other, nobody at Amazon, Netflix or the other streaming services seems to care what they run –just so long as there’s not too much nudity.

There’s no real filter –and those star ratings systems are often pointless.

Besides, decent horror films often get trashed in the ratings by killjoys who really wanted to watch the British Baking Show, but got stuck watching something spooky because they lost a coin toss.

Anyway, I’ve spent the last couple of years, like everyone else, watching endless seasons of “The Office” and “Supernatural,” but this month, I’m trying to dig in there and watch some honest-to-Goodness horror films. While I can’t promise one a day, I can probably get a couple in a week.

Here’s the first:

“Hell House LLC”

hell-house-llc

My first film out of the gate is a shakey-cam film about a Halloween haunted house attraction production crew that sets up shop in an old, upstate New York hotel with a bit of a history. Bad things happened. There may have been a cult. It really doesn’t matter. Thinking too deeply is only going to hurt the ball club.

The main thing is the place is haunted and the folks who signed on to make some money during Halloween are slowly drawn into a nightmare.

While there is a bit of blood, it’s not especially gory. The film is trying for more of a documentary feel and the malevolent forces at work are more about efficiency than grandstanding with a lot of organs getting tossed around.

It’s a little bit “Blair Witch Project” meets “The House on Haunted Hill,” but I mean that in the most complimentary ways.

As is usual with haunted house films, the audience figures out everybody should just pack up and go someplace else approximately one hour and 20 minutes before the end credits, but where’s the fun in that?

“Hell House LLC” is fun. It’s legitimately creepy and even when you know where it’s all going, that doesn’t mean it’s not a fun ride.

You can find this one on Amazon Prime.