Candy Corn is set in a place that only exists in films: a small, backwoods American town with seemingly no children but chock full of adults who every year go mad for Halloween.
Like its characters, the film – written, produced and directed by Josh Hasty – has a deep love for the holiday and all things horror, to the extent of including plenty nods to classic films like Halloween, Scream and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
If that wasn’t enough, it also includes cameos from some notable horror alumni, including Halloween’s PJ Soles (Here playing Marcy Taylor) and Candyman himself, Tony Todd (As Bishop Gate).
However, this points to an unfortunate truth that there isn’t much in Candy Corn that’s unique to itself – the moments that are key to any horror film feel, the scares, here feel particularly devoid of originality, and as a result aren’t as scary as they should be.
What’s more, the films which serve as its inspiration (mentioned above) remain memorable because they kept up the pace and tension, making the action exciting. Whereas Candy Corn is kept at such a slow pace, you can end up feeling impatient for the deaths to happen.
Back to the film, and Halloween is the time for an annual tradition of three characters, one that dates back to their childhoods – the bullying of local boy Jacob Atkins (Nate Chaney). He is a young adult seemingly with developmental problems, as he never speaks and lives alone in an old shack, though has a trendy haircut.
The night of the thirtieth he is about to join up with a travelling carnival that has arrived in the town, when he ambushed by the bullies, who accidentally kill him after kicking him a bit.
Fortunately, the carnival barker (Pancho Moler) happens to be into occult magic, and uses an ancient spell to bring Jacob back to life. Now resurrected and wearing a grotesque latex mask, he sets about picking off his killers one by one.
On this trail of these murders is Sheriff Sam Bramford (Courtney Gains, also the producer), the unknowing father of one of Jacob’s killers. At the same time, having witnessed Jacob’s death at the hands of her boyfriend, Carol (Madison Russ) is distraught and feels the need to tell the sheriff what she saw, though she is afraid to come forward as she fears the repercussions.
This is an interesting and realistic character dilemma, but while it would have been intriguing to develop it a little, it’s only a small part of the film and is quickly left the by the wayside. The film can’t make up its mind about Carol in particular – first she is used as the voice of reason before being turned into a bombshell.
It’s not the only lax bit of writing here, either, the characters all sound the same and have a single trait, at most. At the end, it tries to resolve the script’s larger plot elements, but in trying to do so ends up making a lot less sense.
In the end, Candy Corn is not a bad film – it’s well made and everyone involved give it their all, but that’s all trapped by a stale script and an inability to provide any real scary moments. Those who have a big an obsession for Halloween as the film does may get the most satisfaction from it, but it doesn’t do enough for those less fluent in horror.