Review: Director Nia DaCosta Superb Remake Of ‘Candyman’
Director: Nia DaCosta
Writers: Jordan Peele (screenplay), Win Rosenfeld (screenplay), Nia DaCosta (screenplay)
Stars: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
The original “Candyman” of 1992, was written and directed by Bernard Rose, and it became a horror cult classic. It centers on the son of a formerly enslaved man, who was punished by racists for loving a white woman. Now he wanders about slicing and dicing those who summon him. Just look in a mirror and say his name five times. Then watch the blood shed begin, and although it promised all the slashing you could imagine, the pain wasn’t quite there for viewers to endure, but it did have it’s moments.
Now in 2021 Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele have taken on the classic film, cleverly refining and developing Candyman as the expression of rage against racism in the era of Black Lives Matter.
For as long as residents can remember, the housing projects of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green neighborhood were terrorized by a word-of-mouth ghost story about a supernatural killer with a hook for a hand, easily summoned by those daring to repeat his name five times into a mirror. In present day, a decade after the last of the Cabrini towers were torn down, visual artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his partner, gallery director Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris), move into a luxury loft condo in Cabrini, now gentrified beyond recognition and inhabited by upwardly mobile millennials.
With Anthony’s painting career on the brink of stalling, a chance encounter with a Cabrini-Green old-timer (Colman Domingo) exposes Anthony to the tragically horrific nature of the true story behind Candyman. Anxious to maintain his status in the Chicago art world, Anthony begins to explore these macabre details in his studio as fresh grist for paintings, unknowingly opening a door to a complex past that unravels his own sanity and unleashes a terrifying wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with destiny.
The dread and the shock gradually builds in “Candyman,” which ramps up after Anthony learns of the boogeyman. In DaCosta’s version you have to note that “Candyman” is of an intellectual and political piece with Peele’s earlier work, including “Get Out” and “Us.” Like those movies, “Candyman” uses the horror genre to explore issues surrounding race, including ideas about who gets to play the hero and villain.
For myself I loved DaCosta and Peele’s version, it had me engaged from beginning to end. Abdul-Mateen II and Parris are excellent actors, and DaCosta utilizes their skills perfectly to create every moment of pain and terror throughout the story. The most memorable scenes in ‘Candyman’ are the moments of actual, graphic, repulsive horror, and gross-out gore. They’ve taken the social dilemma’s of our time, mixed it with horror, and made a memorable film.