candyman | remake | sequel | nia dacosta | jordan peele | win rosenfeld | yahya abdul-mateen ii | teyonah parris | nathan stewart-jarrett | curse | slasher | supernatural | thriller | tony todd | vanessa williams | united states | canada | australia | colman domingo
Director: Nia DaCosta
Writer: Jordan Peele, Win Rosenfeld and Nia DaCosta
Starring: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
This is a movie that I was intrigued when I heard it was being made. It piqued my interest even more when I saw Jordan Peele was involved as a producer and a writer. It made me wonder was how they were going to do with incorporating the original into this remake here. Jaime and I got to see this at the Gateway Film Center as well. The synopsis is returning to the now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood where the legend of Candyman began.
We start this movie back in 1977. We have a boy by the name of Billy (Rodney L. Jones III). He is told by his mother to do the laundry. He walks to a different building and this is the project of Cabrini-Green. There is extra police in the area as they’re looking for Sherman Fields (Michael Hargrove). He is known in the area to give out candy to the children and has a hook for a hand. Billy goes into the basement to do the laundry where there is a hole in the wall. He puts a load into the washer and is spooked by someone coming out of the hole. He screams, catching the attention by the police above.
It then shifts us to the present. Cabrini-Green has been torn down and new luxury apartments are built in their place. Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is living in a large apartment with his girlfriend Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris). Her brother, Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), comes with his boyfriend, Grady Greenberg (Kyle Kaminsky) for dinner. They have a good time and talk about the state of the area. Troy also takes fun jabs at Anthony. He was a hot and upcoming artist that’s in a rut. Currently, Brianna is more successful. Anthony hasn’t given up, he is just looking for inspiration.
The story from Troy inspires him to go to the Cabrini-Green area. He looks in the abandoned apartments. This draws the attention of William Burke (Colman Domingo). Anthony asks him about the area, since William still lives there. He is also the boy from the beginning. He relays the story of Sherman and how he became known as the Candyman. This is the inspiration he is looking for and creates an art piece for it.
Brianna has her gallery showing and when someone drops out; Anthony shows his new piece as a fill-in. It involves mirrors and it opens to show the new paintings he has done. It doesn’t go over as well as he wanted. An art critic of Finley Stephens (Rebecca Spence), Jameson (Carl Clemons-Hopkins) and Clive Privler (Brian King) mock his work in different ways which upsets him.
Anthony leaves with Brianna. Clive is cleaning up with his assistant, Jerrica Cooper (Miriam Moss) after the event. Jerrica gets the idea to try out the urban legend of reciting Candyman into a mirror. They find out it might be much more real than they thought. Or is there a more grounded explanation of what happens to them and those that recite Candyman five times in a mirror. Anthony also has an interesting history with this entity and the Cabrini-Green area.
I think that gets you up to speed with what this movie is doing. Where I want to start is the idea of this movie being a remake or a sequel. Blumhouse is one of the companies behind this version and it makes sense since this is one of those sequel/reboot type films. The events of the first movie happened. The story we get in the beginning is off, but that is for a reason. It is word of mouth so it is like a game of telephone, the story is distorted. Anthony finds out the truth. I do also have my first issue here with the movie. The story of Sherman is not referenced in that first movie. What is revealed at the end makes sense for this so I’m figuring, especially since the story of Daniel Robitaille (Tony Todd) factors in as well. I can see an event from the 1970s being forgotten by the 90s, when that original took place. Not necessarily forgotten, but not at the forefront anymore. You would then that Helen’s research would bring it up though.
Since I’m not going to go into spoilers, I’ll briefly go a bit deeper into the sequel/reboot idea. I like that this movie has the events of the first movie as I said. The events that led Daniel to what he became happened. There are characters here that have connections in the first movie. That is something I’m a fan of. Going even further with this, William also has deeper connections having grown up in the area. There is even something with Brianna and her past that adds more levels for me. I’m on board with all of this.
I think next I should go over to Candyman himself. It works for me having this entity be one where people need to know and fear him. That is something we get in the first movie. Anthony looking into this gives the entity power. William seems to take on that wise, older person to help fill in gaps. I also like that Helen’s tape recordings also come into play here. This movie does some interesting things where people don’t necessarily believe, so they will say the name of Candyman. I’ve done this with Bloody Mary as a younger teen, so I can buy it. There is a solid scene as well with Haley Gulick (Heidi Grace Engerman) and some of her friends.
Before moving away from the story, I should address the issue that people have with this movie and its social commentary. It isn’t as subtle as the original movie, but there is commentary there. I didn’t notice it when I was younger, but as an adult I do. They bring up gentrification and in turn, segregation due the areas they can afford to live. As the years have gone on, it has gotten worse in Chicago. It would make sense this one would be more in your face. This movie also has some issues of racism, sexism and the police being shady as well mixed in. I personally don’t mind this, but if you get any inkling of this in a movie and you immediately think it is ‘woke’ propaganda, then this will probably bother you. Keep that in mind before seeing this.
With that out of the way, I’ll move to acting. I liked Abdul-Mateen here. We get enough of him as a baseline before he descends into madness. It makes a lot of sense the more he learns and the deeper he gets into things. I dig where his character ends up in the end. Parris is good as his counterpart. I like that in the beginning she is the one who is more successful. There is something that happens which is a punch to her gut. I like seeing her reactions. I like Domingo as William. I think Stewart-Jarrett, Kaminsky and the rest of the cast round this movie out for what is needed. Also like the cameos by Vanessa Williams and Todd. I’d like more of the latter, but I get why we don’t.
Then the last things to go into would be the effects, cinematography and soundtrack. For the former, this movie goes practical with what it can. We got some good blood and some gory bits that made me cringe at times. There is some CGI, but for the most part it did work. What didn’t work involved mirrors, but not to the point where I hated it. I like the idea they’re going for with that. The effect didn’t work as well as they wanted. Aside from that though, the cinematography was very well done. The soundtrack was on point, especially taking the theme from the original, slowing it down and using bells. I was thoroughly impressed.
So then in conclusion here, I wasn’t sure what we were going to get. I’d hear mixed reviews, but I like to judge for myself. I think that we get an interesting follow-up to the original. There are some parts to the story that don’t work for me, but I can get past that. I like the social commentary that we get. The acting helps bring the characters to life. I think the lore they build on for Candyman is good. The effects and cinematography are good for the most part. I just have some minor issues with my preferences. The soundtrack is good as well. For me, I would say this is a good movie. My goal is to revisit this before the end of the year if I’m able to see what a second viewing will do.
My Rating: 8 out of 10