Horror Movie Cleanse: The Devil’s Candy

The following is in response to The Devil’s Candy, written by Sean Byrne and starring Ethan EmbryShiri Appleby, and Pruitt Taylor Vince.

The Devil's Candy

Tagline: “He will slither into your soul.”

The Devil’s Candy is the story of Jesse Hellman, who is a pot-smoking, headbanging, painter. For Jesse, wife Astrid, and daughter Zooey, the city life is starting to get to them. When they find a house with a perfect detached building for Jesse to make his art, they jump on the opportunity to move to the countryside. They move in, Zooey prepares to go to a new school, and everything seems to be going well with their new lives. There’s only one problem—the adult son of the previous owners isn’t ready to say goodbye to the property just yet.

This man, Ray Smilie, is audibly haunted by the murmuring voice of the devil, portrayed as a deep rhythmic humming of what I can only describe as Latin. The demonic voice tells Ray that he must kill children because they are his favorite type of candy, presumably referring to their souls. Jesse is also haunted and seems to be compelled by the young spirits of Ray’s victims to find their missing bodies. When Ray comes for Zooey, Jesse has to save his family and uncover the group of buried suitcases that contain the bodies of Ray’s victims.


Music and Art

This film says a lot about the devil as a muse of music and art. In the film, there is heavy metal music with demon related lyrics of which the Hellman’s head-bang to. Also, when Ray hears the voice of the devil, he is seen playing an electric guitar to drown out the noise. After moving into the new house, Jesse’s art turns dark; he paints an upside down cross and a collage in which Zooey is being burned alive. To be fair, satanic things have been the subject of art for centuries, such as the works of Dürer and Musi. Though The Devil’s Candy wasn’t my favorite horror movie this month, I did enjoy these artful aspects and give the film a three out of five stars.

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Horror Movie Cleanse: Train to Busan

The following is in response to the film Train to Busan, written by Sang-ho Yeon and starring Yoo GongYu-mi Jung, and Dong-seok Ma.

Train to Busan

Busanhaeng (Original Title)

Train to Busan is a Korean movie from 2016. We follow the life of divorced fund manager Seok-woo in Seoul, South Korea. Seok-woo is taking his daughter Soo-an to see her mother on her birthday. They board the train to Busan and everything seems to be normal, until a stowaway starts going berserk—she has contracted a highly contagious disease that essentially turns her into a zombie with a healthy hunger for human flesh. The disease starts to spread among the passengers; a group of passengers are able to make it to the front of the train where they quarantine themselves.

When the train makes a stop in a large city on its way to Busan, the passengers think that they have left the mayhem behind them. When they enter the station they are met by a army of zombies; literally, the Korean military had been posted at the station when the outbreak spread through them, turning them all into zombies. A small portion of the original group makes it back onto the train, only Seok-woo is separated from his daughter. They are able to move through the train cars and reunite with the others when they discover that the zombies cannot see in the dark. Good thing there are a lot of tunnels from Seoul to Busan.

Three Tragedies

There are several themes that come up in this movie, the biggest being the idea of selfishness. Soo-an barks at her father for being selfish when he refuses to help others, professing that this is why her mother left him. Though it takes him getting separated from his daughter, Seok-woo figures out that it doesn’t pay to be selfish. I a world where the dead wander the earth searching for flesh, it pays to have friends. The fate of those remaining on the train is sealed by the selfishness of a wealthy business owner. This man, Yon-suk, is why three strong characters die.

As I mentioned preciously, a small group is separated on the train. Of the group that have to make it through the infected train cars is Sang-hwa, a muscular father-to-be, Yong-guk, a young baseball player, and our hero of the story Seok-woo. When the group makes it to the front of the train, Yon-suk convinces the people in the train car that the other group are infected. This forces them to have to break their way in, resulting in Sang-hwa’s death. The train has to stop because of debris on the track. Yon-suk draws zombies into the train car that Yong-guk and is girlfriend are in, causing their deaths. Lastly, Yon-suk becomes infected, threatening Seok-woo and Soo-an. In order to save his daughter, Seok-woo gets himself infected, throwing Yon-suk and himself from the moving train. For these reasons I give Train to Busan five out of five stars.

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Horror Movie Cleanse: Clown

The following is in response to the film Clown, written by Jon Watts and starring Andy PowersLaura Allen, and Peter Stormare.


Tagline: “They’re as terrifying as you think.”

Clowns have always been creepy to me even when I was a child. I believe that the average adult, even if they found clowns entertaining when they were children, would probably agree with me that these types of entertainers are way more freaky then funny. This film takes those creepy vibes that we get from clowns and puts it to the extreme. Clown is the story of a realtor and family man named Kent. At the beginning of the film, it is his son Jack’s birthday and the hired clown is not going to be able to make it to the party. Kent saves the day when he puts on a clown suit that he just so happens to find in a chest in a house that he is trying to sell on the market. Everything turns south when Kent discovers that no matter what he does he cannot remove the clown costume.

Not sure what to do about this, Kent runs off into the woods where he runs into a group of young campers. Unable to control an urge to gorge on child flesh, he bites the finger off of one of the kids. As his urges grow more powerful, we see less of Kent and more of a monster. He is unable to control himself, leading him to eat a few kids in the neighborhood and to even go after his own son.


A Film’s Mythology

Like I said before, clowns are creepy, but this film takes it a step further. You see, the clown costume that Kent puts on is actually demon skin. The myth behind this idea is that a demon in the cold mountains of the Scandinavian region in Europe ate five children every year, one for every month of the winter season. Here in lies what you have to do in order to remove the costume—consume five children. That, or you can simply chop off the costume wearer’s head. I thought that the history behind the clown costume made the plot of this movie more concrete and for this reason I give Clown four out of five stars.

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Horror Movie Cleanse: The Wailing

The following is in response to The Wailing, written by Hong-jin Na and starring Jun KunimuraJung-min Hwang, and Do-won Kwak.

The Wailing

There’s a suspicious Japanese man in this quiet Korean village.

The Wailing is a recent film from 2016 straight out of South Korea. This is the story of police officer and devoted family man Jong-goo. Mysterious deaths begin to happen in the small village after the arrival of a Japanese man. In several cases, once peaceful family members have started to kill each other without any clear motive. The strange behavior of these spontaneous killers are blamed on chemical reactions to mushrooms, but Jong-goo knows better. Though this is a whodunit at its foundation, The Wailing did have its comedic moments and with a run time of one hundred and fifty-six minutes the laughs were definitely needed.

Even though Jong-goo is a man of the law, he doesn’t seem to be very brave at all. In many scenes he whines like a child, is easily scared, and experiences nightmares. The character finally starts acting like an adult when his daughter becomes possessed in the same mysterious way that others in the village were before committing familicide. In an attempt to save his daughter Hyo-jin, Jong-goo hires a shaman to perform a ritual to rid her of what has possessed her. During the ritual, Hyo-jin begins to wail in pain so the family ends the proceedings prematurely.


Who To Trust?

When a female shaman comes into the mix, pronouncing that the Japanese man is a demon, we are not sure if we should trust her. The hired shaman doesn’t make things easier when he tells Jong-goo not to listen to her. Though the Japanese guy is creepy, we haven’t seen him killing anyone or making any kind of mischief. I liked the tension created by not knowing who to trust and for this reason I give The Waling five out of five stars. As it turns out, the Japanese man is a demon, a fact glorified in a fishing metaphor about Hyo-jin taking the bait.

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Horror Movie Cleanse: Raw

The following is in response to the film Raw, written by Julia Ducournau and starring  Garance MarillierElla Rumpf, and Rabah Nait Oufella.


Tagline: “Sisters bound by love, torn by flesh!”

Originally titled Grave, Raw is a French film from 2016 that is unlike any horror movie I’ve ever seen. Raw is the story of of Justine, a young girl from a family of vegetarians who is attending Veterinarian school for the first time. At first it seems like a great comfort that Justine’s older sister Alexia is attending the same college, but what was once an asset turns into a liability very quickly.

As part of the school’s hazing rituals, Justine is forced to eat meat (rabbit kidneys to be precise) for the first time. What starts off as an allergic reaction, which causes her to break out in hives, elevates to the young girl growing hungry for flesh. In an accident during a Brazilian waxing—you can’t make this stuff up—one of Alexia’s fingers are chopped off. Justine takes this opportunity to give into her newfound urges and eats the finger. Things between the sisters get even rockier and they have a biting match on campus in front of many of their peers.

Humans and Animals

As if that wasn’t enough, Alexia kills her sister’s friend and roommate by eating a large portion of the boy’s leg. This results in Alexia being sent to jail and the abrupt end of Justine’s college career. We come to find out that the parents knew that their daughters were cannibalistic and that’s why they were raised as vegetarians. What I liked about the film was the way it reminded me that humans are essentially animals as well; no matter how sophisticated we become we still have primordial hungers for things like meat and sex. For these reasons I give Raw four out of five stars.

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Horror Movie Cleanse: Goodnight Mommy

The following is in response to the film Goodnight Mommy, written by  Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz and starring Lukas SchwarzElias Schwarz, and Susanne Wuest.

Goodnight Mommy

Tagline: “A mother should look out for her sons.”

Goodnight Mommy is a German film, originally titled “Ich seh, Ich seh” which is translated to “I see, I see.” This film is essentially the story of identical twins Lukas and Elias. Like most twins tend to be at that age (and as a twin I should know), the two young boys are inseparable. They spend most of the day outside, running through the corn fields, playing in the woods, and swimming in the pond next to their house. That is to say, they have their fun until their mother gets home and everything changes.

The mother arrives with bandages covering her entire face—the irony that she looked like a mummy and was a mommy, was not lost on me. The cosmetic surgery that she has undergone has changed her face completely and the boys do not recognize her at all. The mother has a very short temper with her children and even locks them in their room at one point. The twins take her laptop when she is not looking and discover that their house has been listed for sale on the internet. The boys begin to believe that this woman is an impostor and they make plans to figure out what has happened to their real mother; they tie the woman up and interrogate her for hours until the shocking ending of this film, in which the woman is burned alive in the house.

Switching Sides

What I really enjoyed about this film was that I didn’t know who to believe. For the most part I really believed that this woman was not their mother. Then again, when the interrogations and torturing started to get very intense, I thought that maybe she was the mother and that the children were mistaken. As It turns out, the woman is the mother of the twins, though one of the boys is actually dead. That’s right folks, one of the boys died in an unexplained accident and the other boy is seeing him as if he were still there.

One of my favorite scenes in this film was when the mother was playing twenty-questions with the boys. In a twist, the boys pick their own mother as the topic for her to figure out in twenty questions or less. A clue is given that the person has two sons, but she is still unable to guess correctly. I love this scene because it doesn’t give away whose side you should be on. Was she unable to guess correctly because she really is an impostor? Or is it because she no longer has two sons? Anyways, for these reasons I give Goodnight Mommy five out of five stars.

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Horror Movie Cleanse: Them

The following is in response to Them, written by  David Moreau and Xavier Palud and starring Olivia BonamyMichaël Cohen, and Adriana Mocca.


Tagline: “You’ll never feel safe in your home again.”

This French film from 2006 will definitely have you triple checking that all the windows and doors in your house are secured at night. Them is the story of Clementine and Lucas, a couple that live in a an old house in the country that is isolated from the town—there are no neighbors around to hear them scream. Clementine is a teacher and Lucas is a writer. Everything seems normal until the sun goes down and they are visited by a group of people, whose faces are hidden in the darkness and covered with hoodies.

Lucas ventures through the house to find out what is going on and is wounded, leaving Clementine to scout the attic by herself. Miraculously, the couple manage to make it outside, where they take for the cover of the woods and make their escape. Just when you think they couple is going to make it they happen upon a fence. Clementine jumps over the fence but Lucas is too injured to follow. Alone, Clementine is captured. Lucas tracks her down into a system of tunnels under the ground and seemingly rescues her, but they find out way too late that it was a trap.

The Unseen

As it turns out that our main characters were being chased through the halls, woods, and tunnels by a group of murderous hooligans. That’s right, they were just kids with nothing better to do. Just showing adults running from kids wouldn’t have been very scary, but by hiding their faces, the writers were able to create an heir of mystery and added the scare factor that this film exudes. For many of the shots the camera doesn’t pan up, only showing feet, and the viewer is left with their own imaginations about who the assailants are. For these reasons I give Them four out of five stars.

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