Candyman (Subtitled) (15)Cast: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Teyonah Parris
Author(s): Nia DaCosta, Win Rosenfeld, Jordan Peele
Director: Nia DaCosta
Release Date: 27/08/2021
Running Time: 91mins
Artist Anthony McCoy and his art gallery director girlfriend Brianna move into the heavily gentrified Cabrini Green neighbourhood of Chicago, where the urban legend of the Candyman once struck fear into residents' hearts. According to superstition, the murderous spirit can be summoned by saying his name five times into a mirror. For his provocative new exhibition, Anthony plunders the old legend for inspiration and he risks unleashing Candyman in the present day.
LondonNet Film Review
In 1992, hook-handed killer Candyman from Clive Barker’s short story The Forbidden went on his first rampage in cinemas. I recall experiencing a shiver of terror when university classmates, who had just seen the film, decided to summon the demonic force by saying his name five times into a mirror. Thankfully, everyone survived to take their exams and final grades weren’t a bloodbath. Almost 30 years later, the eponymous supernatural killer slays another day in a direct sequel to the original film that heavily politicises the carnage and grounds the myth in social injustice and white police brutality towards an innocent black man…
The fingerprints of Jordan Peele, Oscar-winning scribe of Get Out, are indelible on a script also credited to director Nia DaCosta and Win Rosenfeld, which projects action through an aperture of Black Lives Matter and neglects the first rule of horror filmmaking: scare the audience. This Candyman is the least unsettling and gory of the series – earlier chapters were classified certificate 18 on their original release – and heavily telegraphs each visit from the hulking angel of death.
DaCosta repeats a mirror illusion that shows us the antagonist inching closer to his prey and invisibly dispatching them with a generous splash of red. The physical disintegration of lead actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II using prosthetics provides unintentional hilarity and incredulity when his girlfriend and mother largely ignore the alarming transformation. He plays visual artist Anthony McCoy, who has experienced two creatively barren years since he burst on to the scene with his bold, politically conscious paintings.
Girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris), director at an art gallery run by Clive Privler (Brian King), financially supports them in the heavily gentrified Cabrini Green neighbourhood of Chicago, where the urban legend of Daniel Robitaille (Tony Todd), aka the Candyman, once struck fear into residents’ hearts. It has been a long time since the bogeyman cast a shadow but long-term locals including laundromat owner William Burke (Colman Domingo) still shudder at his mention.
Brianna’s brother Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) tells a scary story about Candyman after dinner, sowing the seeds of Anthony’s fascination with bloodshed close to home. The artist plunders the legend for a provocative installation, which invites visitors to perform the summoning into a mirrored cabinet. Death manifests in Cabrini Green and Anthony’s sanity fractures.
Candyman opens with a sweet blast of Sammy Davis Jr and ends with a glut of bland digital effects. Flashbacks recounted as shadow puppetry by Chicago-based Manual Cinema are an imaginative creative flourish that put the earnest live action in the shade. Nameless supporting characters provide plentiful fodder for the title character’s hook but give us little to no reason to care about their grisly demise.
– Sarah Lee