One of the films I’ve been looking forward to seeing the most this year is the new installment of the Candyman franchise and tonight I finally got my chance.
Director Nia DaCosta breathes new life into the franchise that gave me nightmares back in 1992 when the original premiered, telling the story of Daniel Robitaille, played by Tony Todd.
The new movie starts off with all of the credits appearing in reverse, which is how you would see it if you were looking in a mirror. It is a fun touch.
Candyman begins with Anthony, an artist looking for inspiration. When he hears the tale of Candyman he sets out to investigate, not knowing the hell he’s about to unleash on the newly gentrified Cabrini Green and not knowing that he is connected to the legend.
I’ll be honest, I was not sure what to expect from the new film. I was concerned that it might not have the same je ne sais quoi as the original, which it is a direct sequel to, bypassing all of the original sequels (not that that is a bad thing). I am happy to report it does. It feels so much like the first film. However this time, there is a sharp contrast between the clean new architecture and well-off characters and the gritty, dank look of the sections of Caprini Green that still remain. It also doubles as a barrier between the present and the past.
Much of the flashbacks in the movie are depicted with shadow puppets and I personally think it was a brilliant move. It’s something new and fresh. And it was so well done.
After multiple sequels, DaCosta’s film reveals more of the story and history of the killer and that there has always been a Candyman, born out of the murder of innocent African Americans.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II stars as Anthony and I don’t think better casting is possible. The way he emotes fear feels so realistic. And as the character begins to spiral and become unhinged, well he absolutely nailed it! Bravo man. Teyonah Parris, who stars as Anthony’s girlfriend Brianna was impressive in her role as well. You could really sense her panic and confusion. You may be wondering if Tony Todd, the original and one true Candyman, makes an appearance. He does, all though it is brief.
While yes, this is a horror movie and work of fiction, but it brings to light so many real horrors. The deaths of so many innocent men that have lost their lives to injustice, whether it is to law enforcement or to the mob. I find that far more terrifying and heartbreaking than an entity that goes bump in the night. As the final credits roll, we see examples of real-life people who have suffered due to the color of their skin. One puppet scene represents the story of George Stinney Jr, which I’ve always found disturbing and heartbreaking. George was a 14-year-old boy accused of killing two white girls in 1944 in South Carolina. He was found guilty and killed via the electric chair. which he was too short for so they sat him on his bible. In 2014, his murder conviction was overturned. He remains the youngest person ever executed in the US. He’s just one terrible example of many killed.
Candyman (2020) was written by DeCosta along with Win Roefield and co-writer and producer Jordan Peele. The trio created a great film that brings light to injustice while providing scares, entertainment, and new characters that are relatable and interesting. It’s a film with nice character development and pacing as well as many twists and turns.
I think it’s obvious by now that I enjoyed Candyman and I think you will too. You’ll be glad to learn that the movie is now playing in theaters across the country, from Universal Pictures. I highly recommend that you check it out.
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