Candyman (2021) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Candyman (2021) Review

Horrorific content by Christina Dee on September 13th, 2021 | Movie Review | Slasher, Cursed, Urban Legend, Black Horror

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In present day, a chance encounter with an old-timer exposes Anthony to the true story behind Candyman.

Directed by Nia DaCostaCandyman stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and Colman Domingo. The film also features small but noteworthy appearances from Vanessa Williams, Tony Todd, and Virginia Madsen -- the stars of the original movie.

Dare to say his name

Candyman Review

By now, Bernard Rose’s iconic 1992 Candyman is more than just a beloved genre film. Beautifully directed and expertly acted, it’s considered a masterpiece by just about every horror fan out there. So, naturally, when it came out that Nia DaCosta would be directing a reboot and spiritual sequel, it got everyone talking. 

Good things were undoubtedly expected, especially considering Jordan Peele himself would be co-writing. But it’s hardly unheard of for a much-anticipated film to open to a lot of hype only to really disappoint people. Let’s get into whether Candyman is one of those films or manages to live up to expectations and do its predecessor justice. 

Like the first film, the newest Candyman is set in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green neighborhood. However, a lot has changed over the past 30 years. The community isn’t as troubled as it was in the original. Still, urban legends from the early ‘90s persist, including one about a graduate student – Helen Lyle – who went on a rampage right before attempting to sacrifice a baby (who ultimately survived). 

Gallery director Brianna Cartwright (Parris) first hears the legend from her brother Troy (Stewart-Jarrett) and shares it with her artist boyfriend Anthony (Abdul-Mateen). Unfortunately, Anthony hasn’t been doing so hot when it comes to creative inspiration, so he begins exploring Cabrini-Green in search of some new ideas. His roaming eventually finds him crossing paths with laundromat owner William (Domingo), who tells another urban legend – that of the famous Candyman. 

Candyman’s story turns out to be just what Anthony needed to find his creative spark again, so he develops a compelling art installation around it. However, not only is the art not as well-received as he’d hoped, but it may be connected to a series of bloody killings that begin immediately afterward. Then there are the strange changes Anthony himself begins to experience after a haphazard bee sting. 

Although Candyman is only DaCosta’s second feature film, you’d hardly know that from how artfully this film is directed. She clearly understands how to get meaningful performances from actors and makes terrific use of her talented cast here. She also does an incredible job of crafting a forbidding atmosphere that grows thicker, darker, and more compelling as the storyline unfolds. The underlying feeling underscoring this film sneaks up on you, picking up momentum as it goes and delivering on precisely the type of experience loyal fans were hoping for in a new Candyman film.

Jordan Peele’s very skilled hand is also plainly present here right from the get-go. He’s already shown us through now-iconic masterpieces like Get Out and Us that he knows how to tell stories that center on black and brown people. He brings every drop of that skill to Candyman on a level only he is capable of.

Yet, for all that depth and thoughtfulness, Candyman doesn’t disappoint those who came hoping to see a bloodbath as horrifying as they remembered from the original. The kill scenes here are artfully staged and accented to perfection with stunning sound design and visual effects. Viewers are treated to more than their fair share of wince-worthy body horror, as well, not to mention a highly satisfying ending thrown in there for good measure.

Worth Watching?

All in all, it hardly matters how you feel about sequels and reboots. Candyman is a movie not to be missed. Not only is it a genuinely fitting follow-up to the legendary original, but it’s a fantastic horror movie in its own right. 

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