BAD CANDY * USA 2020 Dir: Scott B Hansen, Desiree Connell. 103 mins
Another month, another lame, obnoxious horror anthology. This one is framed by a series of tales based on local myths and legends, as spun by irritating DJs Chilly Billy (Corey Taylor) and Paul (Zach Galligan). They exchange cheap jokes and banter in between a sequence of interwoven individual stories that collide with the wraparound in the final act. It’s clearly (and optimistically) aping TRICK ‘R TREAT, which remains one of the strongest genre portmanteau of the last 20 years or so.
With public-domain evergreen NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD inevitably playing on characters’ television sets, this invokes various modern horror film elements we’ve encountered many times before. Check out: bullied kids taking refuge in a treehouse, a drunk / mean stepfather, a malevolent jester lurking in the background, a child who brings hairy monsters (and her dead mom) to life by drawing them and a Halloween night Ebenezer Scrooge figure forced to consume his own malicious razorblade-lined offerings. Also thrown in are (already dated) references to immigration and Trump-era America, one of those hackneyed camera crews exploring a notorious cursed house and a failed attempt to shock via a morgue-set necrophilia interlude featuring a buxom woman in a cheap nurse costume.
It’s swiftly dragged down by grating characters, from the three hookers exchanging dick anecdotes to the kind of supporting players who say things like “Faecal matter – that’s shit!” and fully deserve to have their feet nail-gunned. The weirdly inconsistent tone means that, at times, it appears to be pitched at kids – but it’s too nasty for younglings and just too feeble and cheap to have any adult appeal. The stories bring no fresh twists or riffs on over-familiar themes – and Galligan and Taylor have no chemistry as our swiftly annoying hosts. There’s a flicker of decent practical gore along the way, but the CG elements are (predictably) useless.
Review by Steven West