Candyman (2021)

The second new horror movie I saw today was the bigger of the two films. It is the continuing story (or sequel, if you must) of Candyman, from director Nia DaCosta and screenwriter Jordan Peele among others.

In 1992, the first Candyman movie was released and it was a solid horror film featuring a story that really plays into this new film. In this movie, Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his partner Brianna (Teyonah Parris) moved into recently gentrified Cabrini, on the site where the old Cabrini Towers (from the first movie) once stood. Anthony was an artist looking for a new inspiration when he comes across long time resident William Burke (Colman Domingo), who revealed the story of the first movie and of Candyman.

With his creative juices now flowing from the tales of the past, Anthony created an art exhibit of his work called “Say My Name” which triggered a return of the hook-handed Candyman (including several appearances by Tony Todd).

The film starts as a slow burn, building tension and character. They used this technique of shadow puppets to do some of the exposition which I thought was absolutely brilliant. It created a very ominous mood and kept the audience off-balance with the animation. I really liked that technique.

As the film reaches the second and third act, it becomes very brutal and more graphically bloody and gory than I expected. The Candyman kills are decent. It is especially well shot as the victims can not see Candyman outside of the mirror in which they have just summoned them. Again, it is a very cinematically shot film.

Let me address the controversy that seems to be blowing up over social media and on the internet. There has been some shouts from those people who do such things that the new Candyman movie is “woke” or too much “SJW” and embrace the ideals of BLM. I really hate the term “woke” because it is such a ridiculous term. What does it even mean? Doesn’t it mean we give opportunities to people of all races and backgrounds? That we do not turn our attention away from the prejudice and racism in our society? I don’t understand why that would be a considered bad thing. There are screams of this film having an agenda and pushing their political beliefs. To that I say that all movies have an agenda and plenty of them have political concepts, including the original Candyman. Yes, there are themes of racial conflict in Candyman and, perhaps it could have been more subtle in its execution, but these are important ideas and there is nothing wrong with them. I never once felt preached to during Candyman and some people are just looking for something to argue about.

This film does set up for future installments. I do believe I liked the original more, but the “spiritual sequel” is solid piece of entertainment with a strong message.

3.8 stars

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