Review by Lauryn Angel
Director Nia DaCosta’s Candyman has been described as a “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 film of the same name, directed by Bernard Rose. DaCosta’s film deftly skips over the sequels to the earlier film, connecting to the first film in a vein similar to 2018’s Halloween. That being said, the first film is not required viewing to enjoy this sequel.
This newer Candyman ties in the story of Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) from the first film using animated sequences, giving newer viewers all the context they need about Helen’s encounter with the Candyman of Cabrini Green. The story is told by Troy Cartwright (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) at a dinner party hosted by his sister Brianna (Teyonah Parris) and her partner Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdeul-Mateen II). Anthony, a frustrated artist, becomes interested in the story – to the point of obsession.
While it is a horror film, it is hardly the slasher film many might expect. The conceit of summoning the Candyman by saying his name five times while looking into a mirror remains, but many of the murders occur off-screen or at a distance. The death of the victims is not the spectacle here. The body horror of Anthony’s bee sting – a metaphor for his psychological decay, perhaps? – is more gory than some of the deaths. Instead, the film is more interested in exploring themes of racial injustice and gentrification, the smothering of black creative voices by white critics.
Those who go into the film expecting a slasher film are likely to be disappointed by this “spiritual sequel,” but I quite enjoyed it. It’s a new take on the Candyman figure, while simultaneously providing a stylish nod to the original.
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