The Candyman, the man who was a little too keen to offer kids sweets and the one any sane kid would run a mile from until Jimmy Saville upped the stakes in his efforts to be king of the paedos having got himself a TV show. No Bedford van and a bag of Maltesers for him but even that is not enough of a lure with nothing less than being one of the Queen sons now being good enough (‘You’re fired!‘ – Ed) …..but we digress. The Candyman (2021) here is a mythical figure first featured in the 1992 film, a ghostly murderous figure with a hook hand he used to slay his victims although it presumably was also useful to latch onto the overhead electric girds in order to get free rides on the dodgems. That first film saw Tony Todd’s Candyman and his victim Helen (Virginia Madsen) meet their fate in a fire and it’s a tale that’s recounted as some sort of urban legend by Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) brother to his art curator sister Brianna (Teyonah Parris) and artist partner Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).
Told in with stylized shadow silhouettes its effectively a recap of events in the original film and this latest version is essentially Candyman 2 that mercifully ignores the two inferior sequels made to the original film. That the first film had moved the story from the Liverpool of the novel to Chicago and cleverly bought in a racial undertones is continued here but it’s that latter aspect which is heavily shoehorned into the plot with the gentrification of the Chicago ghetto and perhaps even more so the perceived brutality of police to the black population front and centre and the shadow of George Floyd is an obvious reference point. But its Anthony, inspired by the legend , who starts to research it for his new project in a move away from his albeit simplistic earlier art works.
The temptation to raise the Candyman (2021) back to life simply by saying his name five times in succession proves too much and it’s not long before the hook handed horror is back on the scene like a slaughter machine despatching his victims with a suitably artistic flourish due to co-writer and director Nia DaCosta flair for some superbly staged set pieces (one such scene nods to Hitchcock’s ‘Strangers on a Train’) that prove that sometimes it’s what you don’t see that is more fear inducing. Little wonder then that Antony realizes the horror of what he has unwittingly unleashed with an elderly resident of the Chicago ghetto where the Candyman myth began knowing far more than he is letting on
Co-written by Jordan Peele this has his fingerprints all over it with a racial subtext that he has played out in his own horror films ‘Get Out’ and ‘Us’ and it’s a genre which is well suited to dealing with such a topic and in an age of Black Lives Matter there are pertinent and thought provoking points to be made in a film that will reward a repeat viewing.
Here’s the Candyman (2021) trailer…….