REVIEW: Compelling and creepy ‘Candyman’ is a success

Sometimes, modern horror sequels to older properties can be massive disappointments, such as 2013’s “Texas Chainsaw.”

Fortunately, that’s not the case with the new “Candyman,” penned by Jordan Peele.

This film serves as a sequel to the original “Candyman” from 1992. This time around, the protagonist is Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), an artist living in Chicago with his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris). Finding himself in artist block territory lately, McCoy decides to visit a northern Chicago housing project for inspiration.

While there, he meets a local named William (Colman Domingo), who tells McCoy the legend of the Candyman spirit. The legend ends up being a spark for McCoy who begins making art based on Candyman. However, his spark of creativity ends up reigniting the old Candyman spirit itself.

“Candyman” is a sophomore feature film effort by director Nia DaCosta, and there’s no slump here. Peele’s script effectively takes on subjects such as gentrification and the reality of how innocent black men have been wrongfully killed while DaCosta crafts an effective horror film around it.

The picture provides a layer of meaning to each moment of suspense, making for a compelling viewing experience. This is a movie that is sure to creep a viewer out, while also featuring intriguing drama around the characters and the neighborhoods where it’s set.

The movie also works quite well as a sequel. It carries on story elements from the 90s movie, but it takes its own path at the same time. The lore is expanded, the original is honored and audiences get something new.

Unfortunately, its quality ends up being a problem. The biggest issue for 2021’s “Candyman” is there’s not enough of it. Some film’s leave you wanting more in a good way, but that’s not exactly the case with this picture.

CandymanBlog
Courtesy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Universal Pictures and Monkeypaw Productions.

There’s a feeling when the credits start to roll that more time was needed to really flesh out the third act. While the movie’s ending isn’t necessarily disappointing, it is rushed. Adding 15 to 20 more minutes in the runtime to build up the film would have definitely been welcome.

The positives, such as the acting, continually outweigh the negatives, though.

A big standout performance came from Domingo, who portrays the old neighborhood storyteller very well. Domingo’s voice and attitude bring the character to life so well that he just demands a viewer’s attention whenever he’s on screen.

Abul-Mateen II, who shined in last year’s “Trial of the Chicago 7,” is not outdone, though as the protagonist. Throughout the film, his character is going through more and more of a psychological breakdown because of the Candyman and he certainly captures that.

When it comes to its genre elements, “Candyman” works for the most part, too. Cinematographer John Guleserian captures some of the kills in the film by  using mirrors to show just enough of the actions of the Candyman, but not revealing everything, making the audience picture what’s happening, which is all the more creepy.

There’s some solid body horror featured with one of the main characters, too, which makes up for the film not having slasher-levels of on screen kills.

While “Candyman” could certainly use some beefing up in its story department for a richer experience and a stronger ending, it’s still a satisfactory horror entry. The movie carries an urban legend feel from start to finish and that combined with all of the other positives make this a success. 4 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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