'Candyman' Movie Review: Equally Horrifying as the Original

Candyman 2021 movie 

Candyman is a boogeyman like no other, born out of social injustice.  CANDYMAN is a sequel that updates the urban legend in an equally horrifying way. Like the original, the real horrors behind the monster are rooted in the sins of the past and present.

CANDYMAN 2021 re-introduces the urban legend with a short history of the fateful events that took place in the 1992 movie. A stranger (Coleman Domingo) recounts the story to Anthony (Yahya Abdul), a struggling artist who lives with his curator girlfriend (WandaVision’s Teyonah Parris) in a luxurious apartment in the now gentrified Cabrini area of Chicago.

The Cabrini towers have since been demolished to make way for new apartments. The remaining abandoned homes also symbolize the forgotten.

The story of the Candyman inspires Anthony in his paintings and artwork but they take him down a dark turn. His curiosity and unraveling open the door for a new boogeyman to resurrect and haunt a new generation.

DaCosta shares screenplay credit with Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld but Peele’s signature style is all over it. Like GET OUT and his previous work, social commentary is part of the framework. At one point a character says, “They love our art, but they don’t love us.” The characters also take jabs at the usual suspects but more so at the people who settle within the gentrified areas including the film’s protagonist.

DaCosta executes a brilliant follow-up to CANDYMAN. She creates a truly terrifying movie that stands on its own and doesn’t borrow gimmicks from the original film. It captures the spirit (literally) but modernizes the dark themes behind the movie.

The original CANDYMAN story was born out of a centuries-old lynching. The sequel’s Candyman rises out of a modern-day lynching at the hands of the police. The film was in the can before George Floyd’s life was snuffed out but the movie’s events eerily speak to those chilling moments.

Aside from the social implications, the scares are on par with the 1992 movie. Da Costa forgoes the cheap jump scares and creates anxiety from the lurking nature of the monster figure. Your senses are also bombarded by grotesque images such as rotting flesh when a character peels away his infected skin. Some scenes are not for the faint of heart like myself.

DaCosta also pokes fun at the genre with the black characters avoiding the usual trappings their white counterparts fall for in horror movies. Those moments bring in some much-needed levity to the very dark nature of the film.

CANDYMAN’s intensity doesn’t slow down and it’s an utterly satisfying horror movie up until the final act. The finale takes a cliché turn. The twist didn’t feel clever enough, but a cheap way to wrap things up. It will certainly inspire a lot of water-cooler talk.

Mateen II and Parris make a great on-screen pair. Mateen II’s depiction of a man unraveling is award-worthy while Parris commands the screen with her fierceness to protect the man she loves.

Is it scarier than the 1992 film? As a teen, I watched the film in a movie theater, and it was such a frightening experience I haven’t revisited it ever again. All I remember was being very scared of Tony Todd who played Candyman in the original. Whenever I would see him in another project, all I can think about was Candyman. Does the new Candyman rise to Todd’s portrayal? I would say no but it’s pretty close.

Now that I’m a grown adult, I will be checking out the original CANDYMAN again to see how it holds up in today’s times. You can watch the movie for free on Peacock TV, which is where I am headed now.

CANDYMAN will be only be playing in theaters on August 27.

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