HOLLYWOOD—I did not like the 1992 film “Candyman.” I thought it was a massive disappoint in the horror realm. There was nothing spooky about it and just fell flat to me. The new remake at the helm of writer Jordan Peele I thought would be interesting, especially after the initial teaser from last year. However, the 2021 version of “Candyman” is no better than the 1992 classic.
This new version truly focuses on an urban legend tactic to craft its narrative. Everyone wants to share this tale about this spooky figure who if you say his name five times in a mirror he appears and murders you with his hook. Here’s a thought that is so simple and people might say is crazy, just don’t say his name five times in a mirror. If you don’t say Candyman guess what he can’t kill you! It is like use some logic and some sense and you might save yourself in the process people.
The story focuses on Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a struggling artist looking for inspiration for his next masterpiece. He learns about the mythical legend from the brother of his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris), who happens to be an art gallery director. Anthony receives the entire truth about Candyman from William Burke (Colman Domingo), a resident of the Cabrini-Green neighborhood that has completely been run to shambles. Mateen’s performance is subtle, but effective, but we truly don’t see the spiral that the movie teases of a character that is normal, but completely unravels as a result of his desire to dig for the truth about the legend. There could have been so much more fleshed out in my opinion that did not take place.
The audience is given a bit of a back tale on the iconic horror figure that was wrongly killed and as a result those who say his name pay the ultimate price as a result. Peele attempts to blend this horror with the element of race and police brutality and that is where I am lost. I get the relevance and while it was so potent in 2020 and I think would have resonated even more last year than this year, it just doesn’t feel finished for me. You can largely make the argument that all the victims in the film are White, there is one Black victim, but it didn’t take place in the presence, but I don’t know if I can make the argument that fully justifies that element of the story. There is a sense of mystery the film does absolutely well and that is a direct result of Peele’s script and the direction of Nia DaCosta.
DaCosta does a terrific job of doing something we don’t see often in horror. Less is more. You don’t see the graphic violence that has become a motif in old school and modern day horror. DaCosta plays with that element very well where we know something horrific is about to happen, but we don’t see all the gory details. One such scene transpires in that bathroom where a group of college girls decide to summon Candyman and play a deadly price as a result. We see glimpses of the mayhem in a makeup mirror and it is so chilling, and effective.
The movie really focuses so intently on Candyman and as result a lot of the characters in the movie don’t have much of a presence or serve a purpose if I’m being honest. The ending I thought was predictable and anticlimactic and I just wanted more. I didn’t have sleepless nights after watching “Candyman” I just moved on with my day as if I watched a movie that took up a bit of time, it was nothing spectacular. So it proves yet again reboots are nowhere near coming close to dethroning the original.