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.
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.
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 / 5)