review by Bobby Blakey
Like most horror films when they work they end up kicking off a franchise. Back in 1992 Tony Todd stepped onto the big screen to bring a different kind of slasher to life with Candyman. The film scared audiences and did well enough to spawn two sequels in 1995 and 1999. Now producer Jordan Peele is bringing an all-new version of the film to life in what’s been referred to as a “spiritual sequel” aptly titled Candyman directed by Nia DaCosta. The film stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and Vanessa Williams reprising her role from the original film. Could this latest entry into the franchise be worth saying his name or will it be a piece of candy you shouldn’t accept?
Candyman follows the housing projects of Chicago’s Cabrini Green neighborhood who were terrorized by a word-of-mouth ghost story about a supernatural killer with a hook for a hand, easily summoned by those daring to repeat his name five times into a mirror for as long as they can remember. In present day, a decade after the last of the Cabrini towers were torn down, visual artist Anthony McCoy and his girlfriend, gallery director Brianna Cartwright, move into a luxury loft condo in Cabrini, now gentrified beyond recognition and inhabited by upwardly mobile millennials. With Anthony’s painting career on the brink of stalling, a chance encounter with a Cabrini Green old-timer exposes Anthony to the tragically horrific nature of the true story behind Candyman. Anxious to maintain his status in the Chicago art world, Anthony begins to explore these macabre details in his studio as fresh grist for paintings, unknowingly opening a door to a complex past that unravels his own sanity and unleashes a terrifyingly viral wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with destiny.
With all the talk of remake and then “spiritual sequel” I wasn’t overly sure what to expect heading into this film. Much like the new Halloween and its upcoming sequels it is sequel of sorts to the original film while ignoring the previous sequels. I highly recommend you watch the original film before seeing this one as there are some important elements that play directly into this new take. The original film is actually not overly scary, but plays on some the tension and creepy factor more than anything and this one is the same with an interesting evolution to the legend of the Daniel Robitaille aka Candyman.
For those wondering I don’t want to spoil anything but there is a nod to the iconic Tony Todd here and while of course he is missed it works for the bigger narrative to me way more than I thought it would. While this is a thriller horror flick this series has always been about a lot more than that. The blood and guts are there, but its more about the racial injustices these people have faced with Robitaille and the original assault murder he faced for loving a white woman and this time around the gentrification of the a community. Depending on how you look at it there are some deep elements here, but you can also just see it for its surface of a straight up horror film.
This film is already largely divided with people loving it and hating it which seems par for the course in the horror genre more than anything. There is some pacing issues early on for me and of course I miss Todd as mentioned before, but I walked away digging it as a whole. It serves as a good take from the original that was fresh in my mind from watching directly before heading into this one, but also one that could either end or set up a new direction to the franchise that offers up some interesting possibilities.
Whether you love all things horror or the whole franchise decide for yourself and check out Candyman in theaters now from Universal.