HomeEntertainmentRichly Developed Characters Carry Graphic Horror Thriller

Richly Developed Characters Carry Graphic Horror Thriller

Truck stop prostitutes shelter a religious outcast as a brutal murderer stalks with twisted intentions. Candy Land gives heart and soul to “lot lizards” before savagely eviscerating them. The sex workers create their own family for acceptance and protection. They band together against the inherent dangers of their seedy profession; which unfortunately opens them to an insidious threat. Their abuse, subjugation, and need for friendship adds depth to grisly losses. The richly developed characters carry the film when it devolves to standard horror tropes. A contrived blood and guts climax takes a predictable turn.

Set during Christmas of 1996, Sadie (Sam Quartin) makes her rounds servicing customers in the “truck pit” adjacent to a mountain range highway. She joins Riley (Eden Brolin), Liv (Virginia Rand), and Levy (Owen Campbell) for a cigarette break. They share snacks and mock Christian proselytizers begging them to repent. The meek Remy (Olivia Luccardi) watches the wild scene from the parishioner’s van. Sheriff Rex (William Baldwin) drives up and beckons a weary Levy to business.


Sadie is surprised to find Remy alone and shaking at their motel that night. The devout girl has abandoned her church. Sadie welcomes Remy to stay in her room. She knows what it’s like to be alone with no help. Everyone comes together to welcome the shy Remy, but warns she can’t stay long without having to work.

A Promising Earner

Roxwell Films and Quiver Distribution

Nora (Guinevere Turner) serves as madame and illicit caretaker. She sees a promising earner in the fresh-faced, young, and attractive Remy. Nora indoctrinates her in peddling flesh. An unsure Sadie worries Remy can’t handle their lifestyle. Riley finds a man’s slashed and posed corpse in a bathroom stall. Nora and Sheriff Rex quickly cover up the murder. It’s time for Remy to see her first client.

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Candy Land shows the hideous underbelly of prostitution with stark realism. There’s no glamour or excitement here. Graphic scenes of violence and assault are stomach-churning. Levy and the women are mercilessly exploited. Pleasure vessels treading into the unknown behind every closed door and dark alley. They’re accustomed to mistreatment. Shaking off trauma, fear, and pain as just another inevitable part of the day. They huddle together for solace and compassion when no one else cares.

Sinners Must Be Cleansed

Religious themes play a big part of the narrative. Sinners must be “cleansed” for their evil deeds. This tired path goes exactly as expected. A bladed crucifix delivers slice-and-dice salvation like a Benihana sushi knife. Candy Land embraces a B-movie, slasher mentality with gleeful earnestness in the final act. A bloody killing spree gets gore points for filling the carnage quotient. But any thoughtful insights are also shredded in the slaughter.

Candy Land will please genre fans. I just wish director/writer John Swab (Ida Red, Body Brokers) had stayed on a disciplined narrative course. There could have been a smarter resolution worthy of the deliberative initial character development; something more than lot lizards in a crucifix blender.

Candy Land is a production of Roxwell Films. It will have a concurrent VOD and theatrical release on January 6th from Quiver Distribution.




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