“Candy Skin” (2016): Science Fiction Body Horror Short Delivers Gore and Suspense



Boasting elements of both science fiction and flat-out horror, writer/director/editor Kyle Martellacci’s Canadian short film Candy Skin is a gripping exercise that assaults viewers’ eardrums almost as much as their eyeballs. For those wondering, I mean that as a solid compliment, as the short immerses us in the chaotic world of a man whose grip on reality seems to be fading quickly.

As the film opens, David Yersin (Renny Jachowicz) receives some prescription eye drops from a doctor (Clayton Millette) that will replace the injections he had been taking for undisclosed symptoms. His girlfriend Lynne (Stephanie Moran), who takes pills with the same logo as David’s eye drops, accompanies him. When they return home, he promises to help her with chores. He falls asleep on the couch, though, and when he awakens, his world becomes a terrifying, desolate place.

Something sinister stalks David Yersin (Renny Jachowicz, right) from afar in the Canadian science fiction/horror short Candy Skin.

David finds that Lynne has suddenly, inexplicably disappeared from their yard and the streets surrounding his home seem deserted. Returning home after checking out the neighborhood, he finds that something horrifying is stalking him.

Kyle Martellacci does a top-notch job of drawing viewers in and making us feel as disconcerted as David does. Stricken by crippling aural attacks and slowly worsening physical ailments, David desperately seeks answers to what might be happening. I was transfixed by the story, and Martellaci’s sense of pacing keeps events running tightly as the suspense builds.

David Yersin (Renny Jachowicz) tries to hold himself together, quite literally, as the world he knows disappears.

Special makeup effects artist Michel Pennington of On Scene FX does an astounding job with the gorey, graphic effects on display. Without going too far into spoiler territory, suffice it to say that practical body horror effects are in abundance in Candy Skin, and the classic tagline “not for the squeamish” definitely applies here.

Great effects mean little without a good screenplay, though, and Kyle Martellacci delivers one here. He captures the terror of a man watching his existence slip away while he physically deteriorates. Renny Jachowicz, who receives most of the screen time, gives a striking turn as David. Stephanie Moran is also impressive as Lynne. Another pivotal role finds Charles Alexander in a short but impactful performance as a man who might hold answers to what David is suffering through. The cast’s performances and the short’s capable cinematography is complemented well by intriguing sound design and William McTavish’s rousing synthesizer score.

Candy Skin is currently making the festival rounds. Check Red Razor Pictures’ Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/RedRazorPictures/?fref=ts) for more information.

Candy Skin: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)


Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.