Alright everybody gather around, the Candyman is here. With Halloween making a decent return to fame for the modern generation, I wonder if the cycle of revisiting slasher films would start again. We had a similar period that ran through the 00’s with reboots and remakes left, right and center that failed miserably to capture the same lightning in a bottle the originals had, but today we seem to have unlocked the secret to making decent slashers, ignore all the sequels. The 1992 Candyman was somewhat favourable, doing just enough to be considered in an illustrious line-up of fictional killers, but of course fell foul to the stench of terrible sequels. But with Jordan Peele attached to the project, I was curious to see if his angle could be a lick of fresh paint, because in theory, this project is right up his street.
Jordan Peele is quoted in saying that the 1992 Candyman was a major landmark for Black representation in horror, and as films he’s involved him have some sort of political and social overtones, it’s no wonder he jumped onto attaching his name to this. It should be made clear that Peele is not the director, rather up and comer Nia DaCosta takes the helm. As well as celebrating the fact that Nia is on her way to becoming an amazing figure for future black female filmmakers, we should also celebrate her fantastic work in giving the story of Candyman new meaning. The film speaks a lot about the destruction of the Cabrini-Green projects via gentrification as well as the entire myth of Candyman being a representation of black rage against racism. A lot of articles have been calling Candyman a film for the Black Lives Matter era and with such an emphasis on the social commentary, it’s not hard to make that assumption. I just think that Nia DaCosta has been very inventive in her presentation of the Candyman story.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II takes the lead role of Anthony, a struggling artist who becomes obsessed with Candyman and feels somehow connected personally to the myth itself. I remember see Yahya in Black Mirror and given I didn’t know much about him at the time, I felt he held his own starring alongside the likes of Anthony Mackie. I though he played to obsessed artist very convincingly, the descent into madness is pretty smooth throughout the film and also there is a chilling factor sprinkled into his performance.
Where Candyman stands out above everything else going for it is how memorable this film is going to be thanks to it’s many clever uses of easily identifiable visuals. Similar to how It found an identity with audiences through the red balloon imagery, Candyman takes this a step further by using several pieces of imagery. It is a guarantee after seeing this film that every time you see a bee, a mirror or wrapped sweets, you’re going to think of Candyman. Don’t be fooled by the studio cards at the beginning being mirrored, that is all part of the motif.
The use of mirrors is possibly the most well-crafted moments in the horror and suspense of Candyman. You always need to be on the lookout for Candyman for every mirror in every location. I’d compare it to Hereditary when the threat is always hidden in the background if you look closely enough. Mirrors don’t only show things, they reflect as well, Candyman understands this and creates a meta point about our world being a reflection of the films world, that’s why the studio cards are mirrored, that’s why we have straight camera shots with Anthony looking down the lens at us. On a film art level, Candyman could be heavily analysed by film theorists.
Candyman is definitely memorable, however it’s errors will be remembered just as much as its triumphs. Years ago we would have brushed off obvious moments of stupidity in characters as all part of the genre, but times have changed though, and some of the decisions the characters make raise a lot of questions. I guess the glaring moment is when Anthony gets stung by a bee and that sting starts to slowly turns his skin like rotten honeycomb. As you see the area getting worse and worse, to the point where his entire hand is one big scab, you have to ask why Anthony wouldn’t go to the hospital. You could make the argument that his obsession with Candyman prevents him but you wouldn’t think the other characters would raise it?
Some of you may be surprised to learn that Candyman isn’t exactly a long film, and by the end, the films does drop any form of nuance and just straight up unravels the myth of Candyman by just telling you, albeit with some distinctively styled shadow puppetry. It not one of those stories where you’re going to be peeling back layers during or afterwards, the focus is definitely on the execution of its social commentary and I am starting to worry that the brilliant social commentary started by Peele is starting to get in the way of the story being compelling.
At the end of the day, Candyman is going to stay with you, but maybe not for the reasons that most typical horror films do. Back in 2017, It was memorable for it’s distinct identity, but it also had a compelling story with layers to unravel, Candyman on the other hand, despite it’s good performances and brilliant work from Nia DaCosta, in reality it’ll only come to mind whenever you encounter one of it’s motifs in the real world. I know I’ve said Candyman more than five times in this review, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work by typing right…?
Final Result: 6/10 – Above Average
Have you seen Candyman? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
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