As most moviegoers faced a summer of indecision about heading back to theaters, Candyman proved to be a sweet enough reason for a lot of horror fans to head to cinemas this week.
Coming from the creative minds of Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele, Candyman arrives in a time when the horror genre needs fewer remakes and more originality. This film is able to capture imaginations by being both a sequel and a franchise reboot that introduces new characters but brings audiences back to a familiar setting, but in a whole new time period.
In the 2021 reboot, Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is an aspiring artist looking to get his name out there. With the help of his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris), an art gallery director, he has an opportunity to do that, but he needs the right creative spark.
He is told a story by Brianna’s brother (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) about a graduate student named Helen Lyle, who went on a killing spree in the early 1990’s after seeking out the legend of the Candyman; it is this story that inspires Anthony to visit Cabrini-Green, the location of the murders, where he begins taking pictures for points of reference.
While there, Anthony encounters William Burke (Colman Domingo), the owner of a local laundromat, and learns more about the story of the Candyman. He finds out that the legend goes back over a century and always haunted the area where the Cabrini-Green projects stood. It is a myth that had been written in spray paint over many concrete walls: the story of Daniel Robitaille, a painter who was murdered by a mob driven by prejudice during the 1800’s.
Burke explains a traumatic experience from his childhood when a man who had a prosthetic hook for a hand was horribly beaten and bludgeoned to death by police officers. The man’s name was Sherman Fields, who they called the Candyman because he would pass out sweets to the local children. Although he was never known to be cruel, he was eventually accused of putting a razor blade in a piece of candy that he gave to a child. With the police in pursuit, a young Burke saw him hiding in the walls of an old building and it was here they beat him to death. However, after Fields was killed, more candy and more razor blades appeared.
Anthony uses this story as an influence for a series of paintings he does which are viewed by opening a mirror and seen behind it. After seeing the exhibit on display, many people mocked the legend and started doing the Candyman ritual by saying his name five times while looking in a mirror. Soon, the bodies started dropping.
There is a major connection Anthony has to the area and the legend which comes full circle when he faces not only himself in the mirror but also the legend which people start to fear.
What I liked about the film was the direct continuation of both the setting and the characters from the original 1992 film. It emphasizes how places can have direct impact on society and how the spaces people live in create community. From that community tragedy can take on a form of its own.
Tony Todd, who portrayed the Candyman in the 1992 movie and the 1995 and 1999 sequels, maintained a heavy presence throughout the new film all the way until the shocking final scene.
Candyman is now playing in theaters.