I had the pleasure of seeing Candyman tonight, and I'll be honest I was a bit skeptical about the film upon going into Odeon. I am happy enough to admit I was wrong; it was a fantastic film and a wonderful sequel to the 1992 film. This review will be kept spoiler free.
So the new film follows artist Anthony McCoy who is living with his girlfriend in a newly gentrified area close to what used to be Cabrini-Green. After hearing the story of Candyman from his girlfriends brother, he decides to investigate the urban legend for a brand new art project. He unknowingly opens a door to Candyman and a complex past that unravels his own sanity unleashing a terrifying wave of murder and violence.
Early on in the film it tries in nicely with the original film and uses Helen Lyle's story as a stepping stone for the narrative to start. As the film continues, it delves deeper into the story and reveals a huge connection to the 1992 original. The story was actually pretty well thought out and executed. I can see why some people won't like this, but for me this was a fantastic follow up and continuation of the original story. It expanded on the entire mythology and lore surrounding Candyman. Whilst the 1992 was truly iconic, I felt we never really got a lot of information on the mystery surrounding him. We had his backstory, and that was about it. What DaCosta, Peele and Rosenfield have managed to do here is write a film that not only homages and pays respect to the original film and it's character, but expand on the mythos and gives horror fans a new, fresh and exciting story within the Candyman universe. I have no doubt this film will probably open doors to new fans as well that will want to go back to watch the original after this.
Whilst the social commentary is there, it is not shoved to the forefront of the film over the narrative. Candyman, for me anyway, has always represented the racial injustice thousands have suffered in previous years as well as the fear of someone or somebody 'different'. I felt the film found that perfect balance and weaved it into the story whilst not sacrificing other aspects of the film. Something which the new Black Christmas failed to do so. The final scene is a very tongue in cheek strike at racial injustice and inequality but I will admit I loved it. The line "they love what we make, but not us" from Burke is one line that really stuck with me after the end credits rolled though. You can see Peele's mark, so to speak, on the film but I think DaCosta is the one who can really take credit as to how well this turned out. Despite her next film being a Marvel film, I would love to see her return to horror in the near future.
Candyman is of course an iconic horror villain, but still a tragic character that you can't help but feel slight empathy for. And this was portrayed perfectly by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II who slowly descends into madness and obsession. Whilst the supporting cast was good, Abdul-Mateen stole the show for me. Nathan Stewart-Jarrett's comic relief was another highlight for me. And as for the original Candyman Tony Todd making an appearance, I won't ruin it don't worry...but you will not be disappointed. His appearance during a pivotal moment in the film was enough to put a smile on anyone's face.
On whole the film was beautifully shot with some fantastic cinematography, quite haunting at times if I'm honest. The film does feature shots similar to that over the top shot of Chicago seen in the 1992's opening credits, with a twist, which I'll admit was unsettling for some reason. The soundtrack, I felt, was great. New and original yet just as tragic and unsettling as the original, which it paid homage to very well. If you're at all worried about the film lacking gore or any decent kills...don't be as this film well and truly delivers in all it's gruesome and gory detail. The scene involving the art critic in her apartment or the girls in the high school bathroom were highlights for me. Just really well done.
All in all a very visceral, haunting and powerful piece of cinema that will stick with you long after the end credits roll. Whilst respecting the original film, it explores the Candyman lore and mythology to offer fans something more on a truly iconic and under utilised character from the horror genre. And if the original film didn't scare you enough to stop you ever saying his name in a mirror five times, this certainly will.