Main cast: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Anthony McCoy), Teyonah Parris (Brianna Cartwright), Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Troy Cartwright), Colman Domingo (William Burke), Kyle Kaminsky (Grady Greenberg), and Vanessa Williams (Anne-Marie McCoy)
Director: Nia DaCosta
Now, the original Candyman is a film that has a strong sociopolitical statement about racial inequalities in American society, specifically the disparities in terms of privilege and access to opportunities between white and black communities. Anyone who is going to pretend that the movie was just a simple horror film is likely someone that has never seen that movie, has poor recollection of that film, or one of those tragic people that refuse to acknowledge that that movie had anything to say because the director and screenwriter isn’t black.
The beauty of that movie, though, is that it is a horror movie with great character development, disquieting yet haunting erotic undertones, good kills, and a beautiful soundtrack that come together to make the perfect cult classic.
This Candyman, on the other hand, is just pretending to be a horror film. I’ll get into that later, though. First, the story.
Now, I’m not sure if this movie is one of those sequels that takes off from the original movie and ignores the sequels that came after that original movie, but this one is a direct sequel. Besides, I heartily recommend ignoring the sequels myself. Now, the link between these two movies would be a spoiler to someone that remembers the more specific details of the previous movie, and they don’t bother to study the names of the main characters first before watching the movie, heh, so I’d just leave that be.
This story revolves around Anthony, an artist, that becomes fascinated with the legend of Candyman. Wait, let me rephrase that. It’s been 27 years since the original movie, and by the time this movie takes place, the legend of Candyman has become that of Helen Lyle, a serial killer whose crimes culminated with her trying to sacrifice a baby in a bonfire in Cabrini-Green until she was thwarted by the residents and set herself on fire in some kind of… I don’t know, the biggest middle finger of sorts, I guess.
Naturally, like every sane artist will do, he heads off to Cabrini-Green to rekindle his muse, for we all know artists feed on suffering and what not. He meets a fellow named Burke, who tells him the real story of Candyman. This story inspires Anthony to create a series of artwork based on the urban legend, and when the artworks are displayed, it rekindles the urban legend among the general populace. Thus, the hooked killer is back in business… or is he? Is there more than meets the eye behind the subsequent killings, hmm?
Now, the cast is fine, and the production value of this movie can’t be faulted. It’s a visually attractive movie that is pretty easy to sit through. Unfortunately, it is a movie that is just as easy to forget.
Here’s the problem: the actual meat of the story, if you will, is a predictable, even mediocre arc that bears little resemblance to the original lore of the Candyman. Watching this one, I find myself thinking, “Wait, is that how that fellow is supposed to come back?” Now, I have nothing against creative people changing things up to present an engaging story, but here, the change is one done to twist the original lore in order to accommodate the real agenda of the people behind this movie: to get cheap woke pats off the Black Lives Matter movement.
That’s right, this movie is actually all about evil white people, especially evil white cops. There are no fair or balanced portrayal of white characters here, at least, white characters that aren’t sleeping with the main black characters, that is. I’m not sure how that fits in a movie in which the villains are black, but hey, I don’t make it a habit to try to understand the thought processes of people like Jordan Peele and his types anymore. It’s like there is no social cause of the moment that they will not hitch their wagon to, and they barely make any effort to deliver a proper, entertaining, good movie anymore—just addicted to the dopamine high of getting pats in the head from the predominantly white people reviewing movies in the media, giving out awards, and making woke hashtags on Twitter, I guess.
Candyman here could have been anything—Lollipop Man, Cornpop Man, whatever—and this movie would still be the same, because the only resemblance this Candyman has with that of the original movie is a physical one. Worse, it’s a forgettable movie with a trite and boring story arc that it tries to hide with sanctimonious yet vapid white-cops-bad, defund-all-police preaching while using the Candyman name to coast on the goodwill of folks that love that original film.
Perhaps if screenwriters Mr Peele, Nia DaCoasta, and friend had tried to integrate a better story into their hashtag school of storytelling, this Candyman would have been a more watchable movie. As it is, it’s just an unnecessary and unremarkable sequel that doesn’t do anything for the lore. Instead, it’s just an excuse for the people behind this movie to pat themselves in the back about how awesome they are in dancing to hashtags on social media. They really don’t want to make horror movies, and it kind of shows here.