In the era of reboots and reimaginings, it’s easy to feel fatigued by the growing list of franchises resurrected for the surety of a built-in audience. But Nia DaCosta’s shift of perspective expands the world of Candyman with dark humor and with a visual style that cements her as an exciting director to watch.
Candyman, a direct sequel to the original 1992 film, is based on Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden,” which takes place 30 years later. Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), an artist living in Chicago with his gallery director girlfriend, Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris), hears of an urban legend surrounding the Cabrini-Green housing projects where they live. It’s just the creative influence he needs to impress his peers.
But when he meets a laundromat owner (Colman Domingo) who encountered the Candyman at a young age, reality and legend blur until Anthony can no longer distinguish art from nature. His paintings inspire others to repeat Candyman’s name five times into a mirror, leading to gruesome deaths in the city. Candyman has awoken, and he’s closer to Anthony than he appears.
Sitting at a swift 90 minutes, Candyman knows not to overstay their welcome but misses the opportunity to build an attachment between the audience and the central characters, particularly Anthony and Brianna. The final act feels like it was cut twenty minutes short, yet what the editing may have stripped away doesn’t affect the intention behind DaCosta’s vision. Just watch as Anthony paints an uneven, horizontal line across the canvas as he feverishly exhausts his piqued inspiration. Later, that exact motion is drawn with blood across the window of a high-rise apartment by the Candyman himself.
Behind the walls of Cabrini-Green is a truth more devastating than the creature lurking in the shadows. Urban legends are as fleeting as gossip, traveling through skyscrapers, underground tunnels, and vacant homes without capture — the recitation of tales compounds stories that avoid the truth.
Candyman lives behind the walls of a broken-down community. So the question is, how did he get there?