From Uncork’d Entertainment, writer-director-producer Rebecca J. Matthews (Pet Graveyard), and writer-producer, Scott Jeffrey (ClownDoll, Cupid, Silent Place), June 9th sees the release of THE CANDY WITCH on DVD and digital download. The Hansel and Gretel fairy-tale meets Candyman in the unrelenting tale of the curse of a witch with a candy cane hook, returned from the dead to wreak havoc on the residents of a small English town. It would be easy to dismiss this movie as a “mockbuster”, but to do so does THE CANDY WITCH and its themes a serious injustice.
After receiving a late-night phone call, ghost-hunting couple, psychic medium Reece (Jon Callaway – Witches of the Water, Cupid) and his photojournalist girlfriend Kat (Abi Casson Thompson – Cupid), head to the home of Ruth (Heather Jackson) and her family. A strange phenomenon is stalking not only Ruth, but her husband Willie (Richard Myers – Cursed), son Tom (Will Stanton – Silent Place), and daughter Lea (Hannah Ponting – Cupid, Silent Place). The blame for these events, as well as a series of gruesome murders, is cast directly at the eponymous “Candy Witch” (Kate Lush – ClownDoll, Pet Graveyard) – a disgraced nanny who disappeared, along with several of the village children, some years before.
On the surface, the threat seems almost comical: the spirit of a witch whose inventive murder methods revolve around, you guessed it, candy. But THE CANDY WITCH is not a movie for the faint-hearted. It certainly does not disappoint with the use of corner-of-the-eye glimpses, surprising jump scares, and impressive special effects. From being drowned in a pan of boiling chocolate to suffocation by candyfloss, the Candy Witch’s “crimes” are as visceral and disturbing as they are creative, paying an effective homage to the supernatural slasher movies of the 80s and 90s.
However, a gorefest is not all the movie is. THE CANDY WITCH stares defiantly in the face of the historic representation of the witch – the evil childless spinster who temps children away into the woods with confectionary. Jumping off from a brief exploration of the role social media can play before heading into the more enduring thriller setting of the small-town mindset, THE CANDY WITCH does not back down as it questions those who perpetuate the myth as a scapegoat for their own misdeeds, revealing the power of rumours in the court of public opinion and how an urban legend is born.
THE CANDY WITCH continues to be brave and tenacious in its treatment of the subject of child abuse – the secrecy around which prevents the healing of the mental and physical scars for all those affected. What unravels here is not only a disturbing story, purposely crafted to make us uncomfortable, but a sad one. While THE CANDY WITCH cannot be accused of being subtle, it certainly leaves the viewer questioning who the monsters really are, and how we can be complicit in creating them.
Many of the movie’s small cast and crew seem to have worked together before on a variety of projects (ClownDoll, Cupid, Pet Graveyard, and Silent Place) and this can certainly account for the ease and believability of the relationships at play. There are some strange accents on display here, but otherwise, the casting and dialogue are solid. The physicality of Kate Lush as Jennifer/the “Candy Witch” is one of the movie’s real strengths, making her stereotypical witch cackle almost forgivable. Young talent also shines through, especially in the casting of Will Stanton as Tom, the son of the family whose role morphs fluidly from that of a victim as the narrative unfolds. In terms of the supporting cast, Kate Milner Evans (ClownDoll, Pet Graveyard) gives a powerful performance as the troubled Trish, a woman driven to drink by her own guilt and regret.
THE CANDY WITCH is a fine example of not judging a book, or a movie, by its cover. On paper, it may sound ridiculous, but on screen, it effectively balances the gruesome nature of otherworldly revenge with a real-life morality tale and is most certainly one of the most compelling supernatural horrors I have seen in a long time.