Film Review – Candyman (2021)

Title – Candyman (2021) 

Director – Nia DaCosta (Little Woods) 

Cast – Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo, Vanessa Williams 

Plot – Chicago artist Anthony McCoy (Mateen II) discovers the urban legend of the dreaded Candyman is horrifyingly real as his work and life start to become infused with the hooked-killer’s imagination and doings. 

“I am the writing on the wall, the sweet smell of blood. Be my victim”

Review by Eddie on 15/10/2021

Delivered out of Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Production company, with the new king of horror with a message also producing and co-writing this sequel to the 1992 cult film of the same name, Candyman is as high of a quality production as you’d expect from the studio responsible for recent genre hits Get Out and Us but while there’s a lot to like about director Nia DaCosta’s update of the hooked killer, this version of Candyman lacks a certain special magic and scares holding it back from the film you could tell it wanted desperately to be. 

Clocking in at a brisk feeling 90 minutes, there’s not a lot of room to breathe here in DaCosta’s affair with a rare problem for modern day films evident here with a sense that Candyman may’ve benefited greatly from having 15 – 20 minutes of extra time to explore its many varied angles on current affairs, racial injustices and how we view art, with this element never more evident than in the films final stretch that while having some great scenes, is rushed and too quickfire to make what has come before it truly worth our time. 

Centered around Watchman breakout star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s struggling Chicago artist Anthony McCoy and his worrying new obsession (and bee sting that is in urgent need of some medical attention) with the legend of the Candyman killer that stalked the neighborhood’s of his hometown, an obsession that leads to some extremely grisly and well-staged murders that should appease the gore hounds checking DaCosta’s film out, Candyman has an eerie and almost otherworldly vibe running through its veins, enhanced thanks to some stunning cinematography work by DOP John Guleserian and score by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe but all its great elements don’t combine in the way you would hope as we head towards the rushed end game. 

For someone with such a smart filmmaking brain, you wonder how much say Jordan Peele ended up having in DaCosta’s film? As there’s a lot of unanswered questions, questionable character decisions and forced feeling undertones in Candyman’s being and one wonders if the film would’ve been better served just aiming for a fun and over the top slasher with a glossy Hollywood sheen rather than one trying to cover a number of bases when it’s at its best delivering imaginative carnage and inventive ends for anyone game enough to “say his name”. 

Far from a complete failure, Candyman is nevertheless frustrating in its inability to maximize the opportunity it had at its (hook?) fingertips, as it concludes being a decent genre entry that is unlikely to be held in the same regard as its cult original. 

Final Say – 

Some brilliant moments and quality production ensures Candyman is a cut above most Hollywood horror efforts but one can’t help but feel as though this modern day take on the Candyman brand could’ve been something far more special had it allowed itself a little more time and space for refinement and growth. 

3 infected bee stings out of 5  

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