Wednesday, October 2, 2019

A Basic Freak: Candy Corn (2019)

Candy Corn (2019)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: P.J. Soles, Tony Todd, Courtney Gains

As a Halloween tradition, a group of small town teens bully the local outcast Jacob Atkins, whose father owns and operate a clunky carnival and freak show called "Sideshow Spook House Spectacular" under his face-painted persona "Dr. Death". Jacob mostly keeps to himself and quietly braves the bullying but this year, he decided to finally fight back, only to be rewarded with the bullies giving him a beating that eventually kills him. Distraught from losing his son and angered at those responsible tailing it from the scene, Dr. Death swears to get even and revives his son with an ancient spell, turning the boy into a masked revenant out for blood.

Being a throwback of sorts to the good old 80s slashers, (probably the revenge-themed Southern gothic Pumpkinhead (1988) to be more precise) Candy Corn (2019) could have been a nod-and-wink type that throws its bare bone plot in a vat of cheese and self-awareness as most slasher throwbacks nowadays do, but it instead goes through a more sullen and serious story-driven approach which has its ups and downs.

For the positives, Pancho Moler of Rob Zombie's 31 (2016) and Courtney Gains of Children of The Corn (1984) did a spectacular job as Dr. Death and Sheriff Bramford respectively, two fathers whose agendas bloodily cross with one another as the bullies' ringleader happen to be Bramford's son. Their sour interaction sounds and feel often natural, but Moler pretty much chewed the scenery whenever he's on screen, with his Voodoo doctor get-up and air of unquestioned authority over the small cavalcade of misfits working for him, one of which happens to be played by Tony "Candyman" Todd. Other notable faces include P.J. Soles from the original 1978 Halloween appearing as a cheery police receptionist and Sky Elobar of the love-it-or-hate-it The Greasy Strangler (2016) (I hate it), seen here as yet again another greasy looking slob existing only to pad up the killcount.

The film's flaw, oddly enough, would be that the main teens responsible for Jacob's death (and one random girlfriend) are either unlikable or uninteresting, a crud move for any revenge themed slasher, especially one that is as plot-focused as Candy Corn (2019). It makes a good bulk of the story tedious to sit through and mostly predictable, part of the blame falling on the cliched and shallow scripting made for these teens, so much so that they felt like the random encounters slasher villains would kill just for the sake of boosting up the kill count, only here they've been given a shred worth of personality and faux focus. Sad, really, since most of the kills inflicted upon them are somewhat decent with their effects, both practical and digital, but the lack of real personality and depth to these kids made the murders lacking that justified punch, another con for the film.

Perhaps if its execution was less straight-faced, or at least evened its focus, Candy Corn (2019) could have smoothened down the clanks its serious dramatic approach caused and ran a bit better and tighter. Thankfully, the movie does have the grace to look and sound good with all the chilly Fall vibe and vintage John Carpenter-inspired synths at work, so as forgettable as it is, the movie is far being completely unwatchable. Not a lot more to say but, if you think you're in the mood for a simple dead teenager film then this is a film to consider. Not a complete recommendation, but worth at least a viewing.

1 male beaten to death
1 male disemboweled
1 male had his spine torn out from his back
1 female corpse found rotting under a bed
1 male found bleeding from his ears, dies
1 female had her tongue torn off, killed
1 male brained with a lead pipe, head carved off with a knife
1 male had his arms torn off, teeth pried off
Total: 8

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