WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
It’s been a strange year for the horror genre. From the everyday horror of living through a pandemic to the horrific quality of some of this year’s movies, something enjoyable was needed and welcomed. “Candyman”, fortunately, seems up to the task.
The re-created “Candyman”, produced with the help of Jordan Peele’s production company Monkeypaw, finally released in theaters on Friday, Aug. 27, after numerous COVID-19 related pushbacks. The movie, directed by Nia Dacosta, is marketed as a ‘spiritual sequel’ to the 1992 “Candyman”. The new version references the events of the original, uses some recurring actors and still acts as a standalone film, ignoring the events of the 1995 and 1999 sequels.
Notably, Tony Todd returns as the titular character, though there is no ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ – equse charm to him here and certainly no attempted romanticizing of any main characters. The character is rather portrayed to be without his distinctive baritone present in the first movie and more so as a Mike Myers type of silent, one note killer — and one who is invisible half the time, at that, even though his physical presence is one of the highlights and certainly one of the most memorable parts of the original.
This year’s sequel occurs in the now generified Cabrini-Green neighborhood of the original and follows an artist, instead of following a researcher, Anthony, who hears the legend of Candyman and uses the story as an inspiration for his work. He is quickly driven into a ‘mad genius’ spiral of sorts— especially when the bodies start piling up, as victims continue to repeat Candyman’s name in the mirror five times.
The first of the victims is an art gallery assistant who, as noted by Vulture, “speaks in Joy Division lyrics and clichés”, followed very quickly thereafter by her boyfriend, the second victim. The third is a previously dismissive art critic who has finally come around to Anthony’s work on grounds of morbid curiosity and finally four teenage girls who dared to play the game.
Anthony and his art exhibitor girlfriend live in the brand new Cabrini-Green sky rises where, as established in the first movie and again explained using shadow puppetry here, Candyman, Daniel Robitaille, was initially murdered for the crime of loving a white woman. The character was beaten, had his hand cut off with a hook put in the stumps place, before he was slathered with honeycomb to attract the bees set upon him, until finally he burned. This is where Candyman had his ashes spread.
Olie Henderson, in his review for Roger Ebert, explained how “Horror has always been a conduit for… allegory”, and the movie takes care to note that the “real world can be even more dangerous and horrifying than the supernatural.”
The film is especially eager to build on the original rather than being a simple rehashing and is able to portray that on every level. For one, our protagonist is no longer white, a choice that makes much more sense considering what the film explores, and stylistically the movie is quite effective— in particular Anthony’s art in both portraying his personal connection to Candyman and his well being as the movie progresses.
All in all, the original is still a great film and has some thought provoking ideas of its own while this movie builds on the lore in new and interesting ways. The new “Candyman” is a must see for horror fans.
Natalie Katsaros can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.