August 26, 2021

GENRE | Social Horror – Tell Everyone About 'Candyman'

"Candyman ain't real, ni**a!"
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Jordan Peele Nia DaCosta | Candyman 2021
Universal Pictures / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Sophomore director Nia DaCosta follows up the 1992 supernatural slasher film of the same name alongside co-writer/producer Jordan Peele in a sleek direct sequel to the original Candyman based on the character created by British playwright Clive Barker. This Candyman is a striking contemporary African-American retelling told through a fresh take on the urban legend where the killer spirit once again appears if you say his name five times in a mirror.

Starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonah Parris as a well-off Chicago couple, a visual artist and his art curator girlfriend, his Anthony soon becomes obsessed with the Candyman mythology as an inspiration for his work. Peele and DaCosta cleverly inject interesting 2021 twists about cyclical anti-Black violence to the updated version of the story while directly following up on previous depictions.

Famed character actor and voice artist Tony Todd returns to embody the iconic eponymous antagonist as a haunted spirit with a gleeful sense of frightening horror. How DaCosta depicts him through reflections and mirrors when summoned in innovative ways makes for some memorable scares. His tempered portrayal further reflects on how communities pass down tales and mythologize the pas.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Colman Domingo Jordan Peele Nia DaCosta | Candyman 2021

Written by DaCosta, Peele, and producer Win Rosenfeld, their script weaves in nuances around race regarding gentrification and African-American neighbourhoods like Cabrini-Green throughout Chicago's history. How the film interplays ideas of contemporary race and generational trauma with timeless issues of wealth or class through modern art provides a fascinating original hook to recontextualizing the literary boogeyman as a more heroic figure.

The always great Colman Domingo co-stars as someone familiar with the Candyman lore who educates Anthony and, by proxy, us on who he was and is. Furthermore, the use of shadow puppets in the place of flashbacks adds another interesting storytelling device to the film's narrative. How this film ultimately ties in and connects to the original only enriches its story without bogging down anything for new viewers.

Candyman thoughtfully reinvents and modernizes itself for contemporary audiences as another riveting piece of socially conscious, so-called "post-racial" horror. Peele and DaCosta bring back enough elements while updating the basic premise to make the new version, both a sequel and soft reboot or remake, fresh and more importantly, thrilling.


More | YVArcade / Indiewire Polygon / Slashfilm

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