A tubby lunatic, brandishing a firearm, is heading for your front door. Do you and your family A) run as far and as fast as you can, or B) stand and watch him shuffle interminably toward you? If you’re Jesse (Ethan Embry), a tortured artist, option B seems the logical choice; this is a man so lacking in common sense that, after moving into a creepy country home where two people have already died, he doesn’t even bother to change the locks.
To enjoy “The Devil’s Candy,” then, one must tolerate slapdash writing (by director Sean Byrne) and profoundly irritating adult behavior. Yet Byrne — relying almost entirely on a doom-metal soundtrack, game performers and a grungy palette of oily browns and moldy greens — somehow whips his ingredients into an improbably taut man-versus-Satan showdown. In this, he’s helped immeasurably by Simon Chapman, a cinematographer who knows where to park his camera and when to hold it steady.
The result is a commonplace sophomore feature that looks pretty great (in a just-crawled-out-of-the-swamp way) and sounds like the headache from hell.
As Jesse’s new home directs its malevolent energy into his brain and onto his increasingly violent canvases, its psychotic former resident (Pruitt Taylor Vince) becomes obsessed with Jesse’s teenage daughter (Kiara Glasco). Watch closely: You may never get another chance to learn how to free yourself from a duct-tape swaddle.
(At Screenland Crossroads.)
‘The Devil’s Candy’
Not rated. Time: 1:30.