Candyman (2021) "Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candy... Nope, Not Doing It!"

Written By: Jordan Peele, Nia Dacosta & Win Rosenfeld, Directed By Nia DaCosta, Starring: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Vanessa Williams & Tony Todd.

First and foremost, Candyman is a film about race. Sadly, over the weekend, I’ve read many a scathing comment about how this movie only exists to be ‘woke’ or how Jordan Peele is a racist because his films cater for people of colour rather than the white man. These comments alone highlight why this movie needed to be made. It isn’t 'woke' to address problems that are very much prevalent in today’s society. White people complaining about how they feel hurt and discriminated against because a filmmaker of colour makes horror films about issues that pertain to them, specifically, is laughable at best, dangerous and naïve at worst. Horror is a genre dominated by white people. Almost every filmmaker in the genre is white, and pretty much every iconic horror movie villain is Caucasian. There is more than enough room for Candyman. Also, if the complaint is that Nia DaCosta’s Candyman is too political, then you really didn’t understand the 1993 original.

I generally try to avoid political ranting in my reviews. Those who know me know which side of the fence I prefer to sit. However, I have found myself growing angrier with each hateful, pathetic post from disgruntled/butt-hurt white people who claim that they are being discriminated against by filmmakers like Peele. Newsflash, you don’t understand what discrimination is. I thought we liberals were supposed to be the snowflakes?

I could never want a sweet bad enough to take it from this creepy dude

So, as I first stated, Candyman is a film about race. It’s a film about racial profiling and police brutality, and it’s a film about gentrification. So, yeah, it’s political.

Once again, the film takes place in the Chicago district of Cabrini Green; only this isn’t the Cabrini Green that you remember from the first film. Long gone are the crime-ridden housing projects. This Cabrini Green has been cleaned up. Where once stood graffiti riddled, rundown tower blocks now stand beautiful apartment buildings owned by affluent business types and bohemian artists. Gentrification washed over the area like a giant vat of toilet bleach until the slums of before gleamed shiny and new. While on paper, that may seem like positive progress, Candyman dares to ask, “Where does that leave those who came before?”

Candyman (2021) is an intelligent, thought-provoking film, and it is bound to anger those who don’t like being confronted with their own prejudice. It’s a 90-minute swipe at the people who believe that progress is simply a matter of steamrolling the less fortunate in order to make things better and more lucrative for themselves, no matter what the cost is to others.

The film follows struggling artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Matten II). Anthony has hit a creative wall, and has therefore been unable to produce anything of merit in recent times. His girlfriend is supporting them both financially, and his agent is growing increasingly less patient with his output. That is until Anthony stumbles upon the legend of the Candyman.

I should point out that those expecting to see Tony Todd back in full Candyman mode will be disappointed. That isn’t what this film is about. The idea here is that Candyman isn’t one single entity. The Candyman is an urban legend pertaining to different tales of tragedy that have befallen people of colour in the Cabrini Green area. Basically, every generation has their Candyman. Sure, it all starts with Daniel Robitaille (Todd), but he isn’t the main focus.

As with Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) in the original, Anthony’s newfound interest takes him down a dark path that doesn’t end well for him or those close to him.

I don’t want to delve too deep into the plot. Going into the film without knowing too much will hopefully aid your enjoyment of the movie. So instead, let's look at how it’s crafted.

Rock, Scissor, Paper, Bee's Hook.

Candyman is visually gorgeous. It kinda irks me that everyone keeps referring to this as Jordan Peele’s Candyman. It isn’t. Sure, Peele helped write and produce it, but this is very much Nia DaCosta’s baby, and she deserves all the praise. The opening of the film instantly struck a chord with me. In the 93 original, the film opens with a slow, birdseye view of the Chicago slum. Revealing it to be a huge, depressing area rife with decaying tower blocks. Candyman (2021) opens the complete opposite. This time, the camera pans through the new Cabrini Green, taking in the shiny new glass structures from the ground up. It’s a clever, disorienting touch that highlights that this isn’t the Cabrini Green you remember.

DaCosta is a filmmaker to watch out for. On the strength of this, her debut feature film, it’s safe to assume that we could see some exciting things from her in the future.

Candyman is going to divide people. Some, who like intelligent, well-crafted horror that oozes with context are going to love it. Some who won’t be able to avoid comparing it to the original are most likely not going to enjoy it as much (and that’s okay. The thing about sequels is that some people don’t like them as much as the original). Then there are those who believe that everything is an agenda designed to attack them personally. You know what? You’re probably right. This movie is an affront to everything you believe, and I’m fairly confident that all involved in the making of Candyman are okay with that.