Candyman 2021: An Insomniac Review

So last year I did a trailer reaction for the new Candyman flick. Originally I was unsure if the flick would be a remake/reboot but it was in fact a sequel, which I corrected in the caption. Now watching that trailer and the movie twice, I was glad to give you guys a more in depth review. But just for shits and giggles go back and watch me try to sneak that video in while I was at work.

I’m going to start off by saying congratulations to Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele, Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Colman Domingo and Teyonah Parris as well as all of the creative cast and crew actors behind this film. To date, it holds a fairly decent Rotten Tomatoes score of 85% and Nia DaCosta has become the first Black female director to have a film debut in the top spot in the US box office… despite folks constantly referring to it as Jordan Peele’s film. Much like the first film was produced by Clive Barker, this was produced by Peele. However, despite the whole premise being inspired by Barker, it was in fact directed by Bernard Rose. Yet I can still see how folks would have that disambiguation between the director and producer this go round especially with the success of Get Out and Us.

So remember y’all… Peele produced the film, he not direct it… there is a difference!

Anyways, that isn’t my biggest gripe with the film… and no worries I had very little. I guess I will start about what I enjoyed from this film.

Oh and before I proceed, to here’s your official spoiler warning!

Candyman ’21 picks up nearly 30 years after the 92 flick of the same name but gives us an origin story of another version of Candyman and not Daniel Robitaille as originally played by Tony Todd. It is just as visually stunning as the first and tells a tale of the macabre as well as social issues affecting the black community to this day.

In this reboot/sequel or “requel” if you will, we see a guy by the name of Sherman Fields who was fatally beaten by cops following the discovery of candy with razor blades by a young white girl. He was the prime suspect as he was known to hand candy to the kids. He was posthumously exonerated as the deadly candies were still being discovered. Yet no justice was given to the innocent man, even if he was a little creepy. While he has a hook for a hand, it is more of a prosthetic such as those seen on amputees as opposed to the heaping, bloody hook see with our original Candyman. It is this sort of racial injustice that is prominent throughout the story. Much like the 2021 film’s victim turned antagonist, the OG Candyman’s Robitaille was killed by a mob of white men, the sequel tends to miss the poetic and romantic macabre of the original as it constantly paints itself as a social justice documentary more than anything. And although you feel for Fields, Tony Todd’s reiteration of the slasher is iconic. You feel dread and terror yet you sympathize with his lovesick pleas towards Helen Lyle, played by Virginia Madsen. This new Candyman is scarier seen only in shadows and reflections. His kills while higher in numbers are gory, each and every one but aren’t as terrifying as the first especially that shrink scene proving that sometimes less is best.

One of my biggest gripes at first was trying to connect this flick to its predecessor, especially since it completely retconned those shitty sequels. Yet after a second viewing, it made a little more sense to me. We see that the legend of Candyman is passed by from victim to victim, each suffering the result of racism. However, unlike the first film the social commentary is everywhere. The original Candyman lives through the fears of the residents of Cabrini Green projects as a neighborhood gang leader terrorizes the folks of the Chicago North side using the moniker of a hook-wielding menace. Once he is arrested, Candyman makes his appearance mid-movie in order to keep that fear going like a black version of Freddy Krueger who lives on not only fear but keeping his name alive.

In the modern sequel, Candyman lives through each victim, killing anyone who dare say his name. His legend is discovered by struggling artist Anthony McCoy played by the gorgeous Yahya Abdul Mateen II, who uses the story & lore to inspire his latest artwork. While both stories have plots that revolve around gentrification, we see full hand how it’s blasted across the entire film much more than its predecessor. Helen the protagonist from the first who suffers the fate of a vengeful spirit is now a legend who’s story is not that of victim turned hero but a woman who lost her mind and went on a murderous rampage since the murders that surrounded her were never proved to be committed by titular slasher.

Anthony, unbeknownst to him is the baby that Candyman kidnapped in the first film as his mother never told him his origin as he falls deeper into the lore. It is at the soon to be torn down Cabrini Green projects that he finds William Burke who witnessed both the murders of Sherman Fields as well as his sister. Yet instead of Candyman creating a new spirit to take on his moniker, Burke takes matters into his own hands by turning Anthony into another version of the slasher. While the plot is quite awesome, the execution often takes a backseat to the social commentary of injustices done to black people in America. While it makes for an excellent horror story it is this black trauma that makes it pale in comparison to the original as we see it all too often made into a narrative by the media. The original Candyman gave us a black slasher who was terrifying while this movie gave us a reminder of why our lives are constantly in terror.

Don’t get me wrong it is an adequate follow-up to the 1992 original but it falls into the category of predictable at times. Though we are eventually gifted a dope cameo by Tony Todd after a muddled Frankenstein of a story, I could not help but feel that it rushed to connect the pieces with Burke’s character. His motives for his actions felt odd for lack of a better word, the result of multiple writers perhaps. Again despite any of that, the film comes together nicely, giving us a new and creepy Candyman who’s story connects the plots of both movies. Although Candyman used Anthony as a bait to lure Helen, he eventually got his victim in the end as Anthony joins the lore of haunted Candymen.

My Vote:

It’s still pretty awesome and gets 3 out of 4 stars.

Until Next Time Kiddies,

Shalom

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