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# fear and terror / slasher / horror / religious mania / sex workers / exploitation / splatter / William Baldwin / LGBT+ / trucks / motel / Bible / friendship / cinema exclusive / Polish premiere

horror, thriller / USA / 2022 / 1 h 33 min

A horror about sex for money and religious mania

They call themselves “lot lizards,” because that is how they are colloquially referred to in the US. They are a group of sex workers, who make a living from quick action in shabby hotels, inside sweat-smelling trucks, in unlit cheap motel rooms. Their world has been reduced to a truck stop somewhere in the American wilderness, far from everywhere, especially from a quiet, stable life.

Sadie, Riley, Levi, and Liv regard their bodies as exploitable, and sex for money is the easiest way for them to survive. They put themselves in danger every day, but watch over each other for the sake of friendship. When they discover the massacred body of one of the drivers in the parking lot toilets, it occurs to them that a madman is lurking somewhere nearby. The killer first takes the lives of sex customers, but over time he takes aim at sex workers as well. So when they find the innocent Remy, a refugee from a religious cult, in the parking lot, they decide to take care of her.

“Candy Land” is a bloody horror film that draws on the tradition of exploitation cinema and American slashers from the 70s and 80s. Like the most famous productions in this genre, it too takes a socially important topic – the problem of teenage and young adult prostitution in the US – and tells the story in the convention of bloody butchery. With brutality and blood spilling, the film shows it all from the inside. At times, the viewer may feel like they are too close. The camera never veers away from the evocative scenes of death; in fact, it takes long close-ups of its nasty face.

John Swab – director and writer of “Candy Land” – is an award-winning creator at worldwide festivals. In his latest production, he has assembled an impressive cast: actors who are not afraid to play bold roles in spite of their images. A particularly sensational performance here is that of William Baldwin as Sheriff Rex – a law enforcer who hides his queer sexuality, teasing and loving the long-haired Levi. Sam Quartin (Swab’s “Body Brokers”) plays Sadie with sensitivity, as she becomes Remy’s guide to the dirty world of sex for money. And Owen Campbell (“X” and”My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To” screening at the 2020 Splat!FilmFest) is moving and vulnerable in the role of Levi. The film also features Eden Brolin (daughter of Josh Brolin, known for her role in the “Yellowstone” series) and Guinevere Turner (actress and scriptwriter for the iconic “American Psycho”). The mesmerizing Olivia Luccardi, also known for “It Follows,” stars as Remy.

“Candy Land” is difficult to watch. It doesn’t try to hide the ugliness of sex for money and the desperation that surrounds juvenile sex workers. The violence here is graphic and nasty, but it makes sense: Swab uses it to show viewers how dangerous the world of paid sex and religious mania is. And he doesn’t judge his main characters. It’s not a morality play, but a brutal cinema with a clever script. Fans of gore are sure to appreciate it.


direcotr: John Swab
script: John Swab
cast: Olivia Luccardi, Eden Brolin, Sam Quartin, Owen Campbell, William Baldwin
director of photography: Will Stone
music: David Sardy
editor: Andrew Aaronson, John David Allen
language: angielski
subtitles: polskie

WORLD PREMIERE: Locarno Film Festival 2022

age restrictions: 18+