“Candyman is how we deal with the fact that these things happen… That they’re still happening.”
Story: It’s been years – almost thirty – since Helen Lyle went to Cabrini-Green to research urban folklore. But the mythology of the Candyman has kept on. Even though the towers have been demolished, the people who live in the projects around the now gentrified tower areas speak in hush whispers about him, or forbid discussion of him at all. This time it’s a man unjustly murdered for being
black at the wrong place at the wrong time. But young artist Anthony is looking for art based on the pain and suffering of those who lived at Cabrini…and I do believe he’s gonna find it.
Genre I’d put it in: Shockingly Good Horror Sequels
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Based on the 1992 film Candyman, though Peele takes the myth in new directions.
Gotta say: There’s one thing to be really stoked about an upcoming film. It’s another to be blown away even after you’ve pumped yourself up for that film. Jordan Peele, he of the phenomenal Get Out and Us ? Delivered a killer screenplay, and then some. Add to that director Nia DaCosta’s deft touch with the plot and the characters? We’ve got another instant classic of modern horror.
First, Candyman takes us back to 1977, when an innocent man was murdered by police simply because he looked “off”. Sure, he was handicapped and perhaps on the spectrum…but he was a person of color, so he was beaten to death. Things jump back to “modern day” (2019, but hey it’s a pandemic moment y’all), and twenty-something Anthony is talented as hell, but his art doesn’t spark joy with the NYC art scene. They want edgy, they want new. And so the tale takes Anthony to Cabrini Green, to research the legend of “Candyman”, a story his girlfriend’s brother told them the night before. And, of course, Anthony does the 5x thing. And, of course, hilarity ensues.
But this Candyman is more than the plot us horrorhounds know and love. Anthony goes to the remnants of Cabrini-Green, for research into the “edgy” and “new” art he must create in order to sate the NYC art community who used to love him, but now think he’s a bore. So Anthony decides to dig into the “Candyman” myth, thanks to a story his girlfriend’s brother told the night before. Tying that myth into the white gentrification of that neighborhood (his show-stopping apartment being one of the many building gentrified in that area) should do the trick, right?
Soon, Anthony gets stung by a bee on his left hand (of course), and his hand begins to slowly…corrode is the best way to put it I guess. As he digs deeper and deeper into the story, he becomes obsessed, and people begin to die. Naturally, in today’s age of social media, his “Say His Name” art piece gets plenty of press, and even more people start to do exactly what you absolutely shouldn’t do. Cue the blood!
Shout-out to the incredible FX in this film, from the well staged murders to the “DUDE I’M EATING POPCORN HERE” disgusting blood and mayhem. (Note to anyone who suffers from trypophobia? Maybe don’t look at Anthony once things really get going. That FX will make you freak.) Add to that absolutely beautiful shots that are set up perfectly, and the lush, every-frame-a-painting cinematography? Even – especially – in the scenes in the projects. Peele has given us the same high quality visuals in Get Out and Us, so it’s no surprise, but it’s stunning nonetheless, and director DaCosta absolutely nails that vision here. Excellent pacing makes the film feel quicker than its hour and a half run time, and the fact that I was absolutely pulled into the story probably didn’t hurt that flow one bit.
I’m really trying to keep the surprises, reveals, and twists close to my chest, but I want to shout them from the rooftops. They’re amazing, and pay homage to the original film without using it as a crutch. I’ll just say that in this film, the original Candyman is canon. But, of course, it’s twisted. Pisn’t about to go shot-for-shot, or rely on the original tale. But fans of the original will find much to like, and several moments of “whoa” when moments from the OG factor into this new story. And as with Peele’s earlier stories, this is a film you have to sit with for a bit to let its really, truly sink in and get under your skin. And believe me it will. Many white folks may be disgruntled by this Candyman, but I can only hope they let the message sink in, and think about it.
And okay fine. Would I say it 5x? OH HELL NO. Don’t even with me, y’all. Don’t even. But I might just watch this film five times. Or more.
#Protip: Please, please stay focused on the screen for this film. Peele uses mirrors, windows, shadows, and many other out-of-the-way things to create a haunting overall vision. And you don’t want to miss a moment.