To say I had high hopes for this long-awaited “spiritual sequel” to ‘Candyman’, is no exaggeration. Since 1992, I have been intrigued by the character. My love for the titular boogeyman knows no bounds. I’ve read the book, seen the films, bought the T-shirt – hell, I even wrote my dissertation on him. Bernard Rose’s 1992 film is (quite rightly) held in high regard and I enjoy Bill Condon’s ‘Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh’ and even get a kick out of Turi Meyer’s ‘Candyman: Day of the Dead’.
Nia DaCosta’s new take sees a now adult Anthony McCoy (the baby kidnapped by Candyman in the original film, now played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) move to a newly gentrified Cabrini Green with his girlfriend, Brianna (Teyonah Parris). Brianna’s brother, Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) tells them that that area is haunted and recounts the legend of Helen Lyle, a white woman who went crazy whilst investigating the area for her thesis. The story gets under Anthony’s skin, and he begins researching Helen’s story and the history of the area. This leads to an encounter with William Burke (Colman Domingo) and leads Anthony to a dark discovery.
I thoroughly enjoyed this fresh take. On the surface, the cinematography, the direction Nia DaCosta, Win Rosenfeld and Producer/Co-writer Jordan Peele took the story, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe’s score, the sound design, the performances, the shadow puppetry – everything was on point for me.
On a deeper level, there’s so much going on socially within the film, and bearing in mind that it was filmed in 2019 and should have been released in 2020, it was ahead of its time, as though the creators could see the trajectory of society ahead of time.
There’s something about the structure of the film that gets under your skin. Events don’t necessarily unfold as you expect them to, and I liked these editorial choices. Of course, the film is plenty gory too.
I’ve seen a few people commenting that the film was “woke”. I disagree. If you want to see a woke movie, watch 2019’s ‘Black Christmas’ remake. Strangely, I also saw someone commenting to say they didn’t like how the filmmakers told the story and didn’t leave anything open to interpretation. Surely every filmmaker does this with every film to an extent?
Candyman 2021 at this point, is my film of the year. That’s a bold claim, but for me personally, it exceeded my expectations and then some. A respectful re-telling of the source material and a new direction has left me feeling positive about prospects for the series.