*note: this review was originally published for subscribers on Patreon
Candyman is a film that I originally intended to see in theaters last fall, but ultimately didn’t because I was suffering from severe burnout at the time. Even though I received the movie on blu-ray for Christmas, I still found I wasn’t ready to view the movie….until now that is.
Today, I finally sat down and watched Nia DaCosta’s Candyman, a direct sequel to the original 1992 film. While it’s been close to a year since I watched the original film, this one contains enough references to the original film that if you haven’t seen the original or haven’t seen it recently, it doesn’t hurt your experience with this film. I particularly appreciate the role, however small, that Helen Lyle (the protagonist of the original film) plays in the story. While she never appears in the flesh, her presence is very much felt throughout the film.
And what a film! Set in the modern day, the story follows artist Anthony McCoy as he discovers and delves into the legend of Candyman while seeking inspiration for his art. It seems like a great idea at first, but it quickly turns nightmarish for all involved, as it quickly becomes apparent that, even all these years later, Candyman is still very real (and just as deadly as ever).
I love how the story of Candyman is updated to even more better reflect the ongoing turmoil in our country involving racial tension. What was only hinted at in the original film (re: the inequality between communities) is now confronted almost head on in this one. I also like how the story of Candyman is expanded upon, past the original legend that’s cited in the first film. It doesn’t feel shoehorned in the least and in fact it feels like a very natural part of the story, almost an improvement if that makes sense. In fact, based on how the story ends, I’d almost say there’s room for a sequel.
Anthony’s story arc is particularly heartbreaking to watch, even more than Helen’s in the first film (and that’s saying something). Even though Anthony seems to have the best of intentions when investigating the legend of Candyman, it doesn’t take long for the story to corrupt everything it touches, ripping Anthony’s life apart. Though once he becomes aware of certain story details, I feel like Anthony almost becomes resigned to his fate, while I can’t help but think of how Helen resisted almost to the bitter end before finally inserting herself into the narrative on her own terms. Maybe I’m wrong and I’ll decide otherwise upon rewatch, but that’s how I feel after my initial viewing.
Now, no review from me would be complete without mentioning the film’s music. If you’ve seen the original Candyman, then you’re likely aware that film contains a magnificently haunting score from Philip Glass. Well, while the music for this film is composed by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, it’s clear to my ears that he took inspiration from the original score when putting this music together. And to my delight, when I watched the movie’s credits, it looks like the composer directly cited some of Philip Glass in the music too! If I had to choose, I’d say the original Candyman score is a hair better, but that’s really just nitpicking. The music in this film is beautiful and haunting and really helped to drive the horror in the story home.
Also, since it’s been a while since the film came out, I don’t see the harm in openly discussing the fact that Candyman doesn’t physically appear except in reflections for most of the movie. I understand the explanation that this is because Candyman has become weaker over time, but it also reminds me of a scene in the original movie where Helen sees video footage where she was confronted by Candyman, only no one can see him. This reminded me very much of that.
All of this is to say that this new Candyman was very much worth the wait and I enjoyed it immensely. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly encourage you to do so.
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