“Candyman” is movie based a previous movie version of the urban legend about an evil spirit of a man with a hook for a hand who would pass out sweet treats to get new victims. This older movie was a minor cult classic, and of course it is now time to bring it up to date with more socially relevant topics.
A promising Black artist named Anthony McCoy (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is living with his girlfriend and muse Brianna (played by Teyonah Parris). His work has been featured at the art gallery in Chicago where Brianna works. But he feel things are stale, and his ideas for Art need to be taken to a new level. They live in a luxury apartment, near the location of the Cabrini Green site. It is run-down now and most of the buildings are boarded up. But back in 1992, there was an urban legend of a spooky ghost called ‘Candyman’ (played by Tony Todd). The ‘Candyman’ was summoned by people who did not know any better, and he ended their life.
McCoy meets an old resident of the housing development named William (played by Colman Domingo). He knows the history of ‘Candyman’ right down to his first origins and how he can be summoned. McCoy thinks this is a goofy idea, and tries the ‘summoning ritual’ that is to say his name five times while facing a mirror. He does not think anything more of it, until he gets stung by a bee. Bees make honey, and honey is sweet – just the candy that the ‘Candyman’ used to hand out to youngsters.
Before too long, some people in McCoy’s inner circle begin to die. First, the art gallery owner who showed McCoy’s new “CandyMan inspired work is found dead. He and his younger intern/assistance are found slashed to death. There is an art critic that noticed McCoy’s work had become darker and more sinister. She questions McCoy of why his new work has become tinged with evil ideas. Soon after that, she is also found dead and mutilated. At this rate, McCoy is going to run out of people to show and promote his work…
Anthony McCoy finds that the wound from the bee sting has not healed. Instead, it is affecting his entire right arm. That is the same arm that the ‘Candyman’ had a hook for a hand. He goes again and again to talk with William, because he seems to know more and more of the legend that surrounds ‘Candyman’. There are random deaths in which people try out the ‘summoning ritual’ on a dare. It does not end well for them of course. Brianna gets freaked out by McCoy’s behavior and his weird new ‘art work’ and his ‘Candyman’ fetish. She goes to live with her brother Troy (played by Nathan Stewart-Jarrett). McCoy goes to visit his mother to see what she can tell him…
Anne-Marie McCoy (played by Vanessa Estelle Williams) tells her son about the horrors of ‘Candyman’ when he showed up at Cabrini Green back in 1992. Vanessa Estelle Williams and Tony Todd actually were in that 1992 movie, by the way. She lets Anthony know that back then, ‘Candyman’ had taken a baby hostage, and he was that baby. Anthony McCoy learns that he has a connection to an evil spirit and it has come back haunt him now. The evils of the South Side of Chicago just got a brand new Big Bad. Move over Racism. Step aside Police Brutality. Get out of the way Discrimination. Make room for the “Candyman”!
“Candyman” is movie based on a movie of same name (made back in 1992). It is reimaging of an ‘urban legend’ type story, a ‘boogeyman’ who can stalk a person to their death. But this version has additional weight, seeing that it features co-writers of Jordan Peele (famous now for “Get Out”) and Nia DaCosta – who also directed. She is about to be famous for this work and for a future Marvel movie. The movie gives equal weight to horror and social commentary. It could not exist if not for the slum that was the housing development of Cabrini Green and the subsequent ‘gentrification’ of that area.
Nia DaCosta does a very fine job to take a movie in the horror genre and infuse it with some new energy and flair. Even with the open credits and at points during the movie and in the closing credits – there are crafty moments that make you feel out of kilter. Using unusual point-of-view shots and even some shadow puppet plays makes for sneaky way to tell the story. The acting is impressive. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II turns from a meek artist to a raging fury of vengeance. Teyonah Parris is good in the ‘final girl’ role. And Colman Domingo keeps underplaying the fact that he knows way more than you think he does.
“Candyman” does a great job of bringing you in with the horror aspect, and then nudging you into the reality of the larger evils that beset the underclass and people of color. They tell you that the ‘Man with a Plan’ is no match for a ‘Man with a Hook for a Hand’. The movie does get a little over-the-top in social commentary, but by that point – believe me – you will be hooked. Just say my name five times in the mirror…
Directed by: Nia DaCosta
Screenplay by: Jordan Peele, Win Rosenfeld, Nia DaCosta
Based on “The Forbidden” (by Clive Barker)
Starring: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Colman Domingo, Tony Todd
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release date: August 27, 2021
Length: 91 minutes
MPAA rating: R for bloody horror violence, and language including some sexual references