Candyman: Film Review


Courtesy of Universal

I watched the original 1992 Candyman only a couple of years ago and I thought it was simply fine, so I was very intrigued by what Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele were going to do with their sequel.

The supernatural slasher horror follows Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a struggling artist who has just moved into a new gentrified development on the site of Cabrini Green – the housing projects heavily featured in the first film – in Chicago with his girlfriend, art curator Brianna (Teyonah Parris). Following a chance encounter with a longtime resident William (Colman Domingo), Anthony becomes obsessed with the urban legend of the Candyman, who has a hook for a hand and will kill you if you say his name in the mirror five times.

Like Peele – who co-wrote the movie with director DaCosta and Win Rosenfeld – has done in the past with films such as Get Out and Us, Candyman blends horror with social commentary, shining a light on police brutality, the staggering regularity of the violence in the poor, predominantly Black neighbourhood of Cabrini Green, and how the community was cut off and forgotten about before becoming gentrified. I liked the smart screenplay and the interesting and unexpected ways it connected to the original, with it honouring what came before while also bringing it bang up to date in the present day.

However, it doesn’t quite come together in the end. I had quite a few issues with the last 10-15 minutes. I didn’t think the themes were handled particularly well and lacked nuance and I didn’t understand the motivation behind a certain character’s evil switch. It didn’t make sense or feel earned. I kept thinking, “What’s happened?! Why is he like this now?!” I also came away quite confused because I didn’t understand what it all meant. I have so many questions!

One of my favourite aspects of this movie was the cinematography. There were so many freaking cool and unexpected shots, with standouts such as the mirrored cityscapes and witnessing a killing through a dropped cosmetics mirror. Also on the visuals front, I loved the shadow puppets, which were used to bring to life the urban folklore – they looked amazing and captured my attention completely.

Those coming to Candyman hoping for a terrifying horror fix may be disappointed because, like the original, it has sporadic moments of scares but is mostly focused on creating a chilling and unnerving atmosphere. However, there is still plenty of blood and a little bit of gore and some absolutely gross body horror that made me wince and watch through my fingers. This film never falls into obvious horror tropes either and subverts one in such an amazing way that it got the movie’s biggest laugh during my screening.

Although I would have liked the film to have delved a little deeper into Anthony, I was impressed by how Abdul-Mateen became this increasingly erratic and unstable person who is consumed by the Candyman legend to the detriment of everything else in his life. I really liked Parris as she was not just Anthony’s girlfriend, she is the breadwinner with her shit together and she’s not simply there to support him. My favourite character was Brianna’s camp brother Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), he was very opinionated and made me chuckle.

I would recommend rewatching the 1992 Candyman before seeing this sequel to refresh your memory as it’ll improve your viewing experience.

In cinemas Friday 27th August

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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