Tag Archives: Nia DaCosta

My Thoughts on: Candyman (2021)

*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.

See also:

My Thoughts on: Candyman (1992)

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My Thoughts on: Candyman (1992)

I’m going to be honest right at the start and just admit that the only reason this film came on my radar at all is because I saw the trailer for the upcoming Candyman film when I went to see Spiral. That trailer intrigued me so much, I got curious and asked the Internet if I needed to see the original Candyman film first. As most of them said yes, I picked up a copy of the film, have just finished watching it and let me tell you that film is an experience I will not soon forget.

Honestly, I’m not sure where to start with Candyman, there’s so many parts of it that are incredible. I might as well start with Philip Glass’ score for the film. Had I known that Philip Glass composed the music for Candyman, I probably would’ve attempted this film years ago, as I have the highest respect for his work. This won’t surprise many of you who’ve been following my work, but the music was undoubtedly one of my favorite things about this film. It gives the story of Candyman an almost sacred feeling in some places, which is fitting given the titular character is a supernatural being and the hapless Helen is forced to join that realm by the film’s end. The thing is, I can’t imagine this film being scored any other way, that’s how good the music is! The air of solemnity it gives to the story in just the right moments, that’s what you want in film music, something that elevates the story.

Apart from the music, the story itself is equal parts enthralling and horrifying. Like, this is the stuff of my nightmares horrifying. After invoking Candyman and then attempting to disprove his legend, Helen is literally forced to watch as her life is systematically torn apart and destroyed beyond all hope of repair. The emotional angst and trauma in this film is so palpable that it will be a long time before I can watch this film again. You can feel Helen’s pain as she tries to comprehend what is happening to her. You can definitely feel Ann Marie’s pain in a scene that I found so distressing I’m scared to see what the unrated version of the scene looks like. If the goal of this film was to make me deeply uncomfortable, it worked. My mind was taken places it didn’t want to go, but the story was so compelling I literally could not look away.

And then there’s Candyman himself. I was completely mesmerized by Tony Todd’s performance as the titular character. Once he properly arrives in the film after being teased several times, you literally can’t look away whenever he’s on the screen. Between his deep voice and the sheer presence with which he plays the role of Candyman…I don’t know what to say other than I was enthralled. What really drew me in were the hints at Candyman’s hidden depths. He’s not just some random killing being, there’s a purpose to what he does and it makes a twisted amount of sense if you think about it long enough. And that scene with the bees, yes THAT scene, that pretty much put me over the edge (and that’s all I can say about that).

Was there anything I didn’t like in this film? Well, not exactly. I was uncomfortable with some of the more bloody moments, but that’s because I’m a generally squeamish person. It can’t be a complaint against the film because if I’m watching a rated R horror film, I know I’m going to be in for something messy. However, I do think that sub-plot with Helen’s husband was almost unnecessary. I kind of get why it’s in there, since it provides the final push Helen needs to realize she needs to give in to the Candyman (and it helps set up a fantastic closing sequence to the film), but it still feels like almost an afterthought given everything else going on. That’s really nitpicking though, as I loved pretty much everything else in this film.

Now that I’ve made it through the original Candyman film, I’m more excited than ever to see Nia DaCosta’s take on the story (especially since I’ve seen that Tony Todd will be in that film as well). I am also definitely adding Candyman to my list of must-see Halloween films that has slowly been growing since I managed to watch Halloween (1978) last year.

Let me know what you think about Candyman (1992) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

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