Jordan Peele’s stylish and timely update of Candyman takes its cues from the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as serving as a direct sequel to the original 1992 horror classic.
While there have already been two Candyman sequels – Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995) and Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999) – producer Peele and director Nia DaCosta’s take on Clive Barker’s chilling urban legend returns to the original film’s location of Cabrini-Green – albeit decades after the grimy Chicago housing project has been torn down and the area gentrified.
But of course, the legend of the Candyman persists and becomes an obsession for Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a struggling young artist who attempts to make sense of the legend through his work – one of which openly invites summoning the hook-handed killer by looking into a mirror and saying his name five times.
When the boogeyman manifests and the body count escalates, Anthony soon learns his destiny is irrevocably linked to the Candyman…
Those familiar with the original film will be quick to guess the connection (with the casting of Vanessa Williams in a minor role a further clue), but what Peele and DaCosta are more interested in here is presenting a Black perspective on the original’s theme of modern oral folklore reflecting the fears of urban society.
Where Bernard Rose’s 1992 film changed the location of Barker’s story from a Liverpool council estate to the Chicago ghetto in order to explore poverty and race relations in America, Peele and DaCosta take it a step further, transforming the Candyman into a symbol for the racial injustice that spawned the BLM movement – and a vengeful response to it. As one character notes, “Candyman ain’t a he, Candyman is the whole hive.”
Moreover, the new film unfolds against the backdrop of the art world in homage to Candyman’s origins, allowing DaCosta to play with all sorts of striking visual motifs including the use of shadow puppetry to impart vital backstory, and shooting the bloody murders with artistic flair and bold primary colours.
Candyman is a slick and cerebral sequel-cum-remake that captures the dream-like atmosphere and scares of the original, while reflecting the current sociopolitical climate. Fans will relish the little nods to the first film – the bees, the graffiti, the grabs from Philip Glass’s haunting score – while newcomers will find it immediately accessible. Altogether now: ‘Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman…”
In cinemas: August 26
Starring: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
Directed by: Nia DaCosta