Saturday, May 21, 2022


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Nia DaCosta
Starring: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Colman Domingo, Kyle Kaminsky, Vanessa Williams, Brian King, Miriam Moss, Rebecca Spence, Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Christiana Clark, Michael Hargrove, Rodney L Jones III, Heidi Grace Engerman, Tony Todd
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Writer/director Nia DaCosta who first came to prominence with her debut "Little Woods" in 2018, has tackled a somewhat reimagining or sequel to what is a cult horror film of the 90s, namely Bernard Rose's "Candyman". The original "Candyman" itself is based on Clive Barker's short story, "The Forbidden", though this new version picks up nearly 30 years later after the events of that film. The area where the events took place has now become gentrified, and the story focuses on the life of an up and coming artist by the name of Anthony McCoy. He lives in a nice loft with his art gallery director girlfriend Brianna, and is needing of a jolt or spark to continue his work. They both hear the urban legend of the Candyman from Brianna's brother, and Anthony decides to investigate further. He goes to the area in which the incidents around this figure supposedly occurred and meets William Burke, who owns a local laundromat, and tells him the Candyman story. This story inspires him to create more artwork, but this attention to the figure starts bringing the actual Candyman back and as a result the number of dead bodies starts increasing. As Anthony investigates further on the story behind that mythical entity, he notices his own body is also starting to change (in fact since a bee sting he got while visiting the area where Candyman previously attacked). He learns from his own mother details about his childhood that suddenly put his own existence in a different light.
Bernard Rose's "Candyman" was an interesting take on this character, one that looked at the mythological aspect of "Candyman" through the eyes of Helen Lyle, a student researching urban legends, in particular and in this case, African American ones. It was a film that took somewhat of a light stab at illustrating some profoundly unbalanced social-economical aspects, particularly the distribution of wealth and how that manifested itself in the creation of housing projects where people had been pushed out to, in many ways marginalized, this in the area of Chicago. Nia DaCosta's take on this is slightly different, since while depicting the same environment, the reality is now very different. For starters, there's an overwhelming gentrification which has occurred in the area, essentially converting these once segregated neighborhoods into a hotbed of hip clusters drawing young people in. And this is where she places the hero/anti-hero of this narrative. The director transforms "Candyman" into a quasi urban folk legend, one that has existed throughout the centuries, since slavery occurred and violence towards African American individuals in general has manifested itself. While not being an Avenging Angel or Supernatural Vigilante, "Candyman" is given a somewhat different stance on this sequel, which makes it more interesting and substantial. While this whole universe is richly layered, and the director peppers the film with beautifully rendered visual flourishes, the characters are sadly never more than thinly layered clichés. From Anthony himself, the hip artist trying to break through the elitist art scene, to the supporting characters, all of them are very roughly characterized which is where the film loses some of its impact. It would have benefited the narrative to understand a bit more about this central couple, what brought them and kept them together. The cast is uniformly solid, with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II making for a charismatic lead, with good support from Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and Colman Domingo. The production team is also impeccable with the beautiful cinematography from John Guleserian, production design from Cara Brower and score from Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe. While a bit unbalanced, there's much to enjoy from this take on this well known character from this director.