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Candyman (2021) Review

Whoever’s naming horror sequels these days isn’t doing a particularly good job of it. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the 2021 film Candyman, directed by Nia DaCostais a remake of the 1992 original also titled Candyman but despite having the exact same name, it is in fact a sequel. Much like how 2018’s Halloween was a direct sequel to the original and ignored the various sequels, the new Candyman does the same and makes the good decision to ignore the two follow-ups that arose in 1995 and 1999.

If you’re new to the franchise you can however slip in and watch DaCosta’s film without being lost. Having seen the original will certainly better your enjoyment of the film and if you’ve been scared of bees and hooks ever since 1992, there’s no doubt that you will be even more terrified by this new nightmare than if you haven’t. But if you don’t have time to watch the original (which is currently streaming on Netflix) then you won’t be too lost.

The urban legend goes that if you stand in front of a mirror and say “Candyman” 5 times, he will return and kill you. And so naturally, as Candyman is a horror film, that’s exactly what happens. In fact, it happens quite a few times in the film as multiple characters try to re-invoke the spirit of the Candyman. The movie, written by DaCosta, Win Rosenfeld and Jordan Peele sees artist Anthony McCoy – a name that’ll ring some bells for fans of the original – played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and his girlfriend Brianna (WandaVision’s Teyonah Parris) move into the now gentrified Cabrini-Green – another name that’ll bear some meaning to fans of the original.

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The Cabrini-Green neighbourhood in Chicago has completely changed from what it was in the original film. All the towers are gone and instead they’ve been turned into luxury condos where Anthony and Brianna now live. However, the Candyman myth still exists. And with Anthony’s art career stalling, he starts looking into the legend of the Candyman, re-invoking his spirit and setting off a chain of brutal murders by everyone’s favourite hook-handed man.

The film grabs your attention very early on, with the opening credits appearing on screen as the camera glides through Chicago looking up at the tall buildings and the misty sky. The whole film uses reflections and mirrors so well. That is, of course, how the Candyman is summoned – so it’s always going to play a big role – but anytime a mirror or any sort of reflective surface is seen on screen your heart starts racing even faster. There’s one scene that takes place in a lift with entirely reflective walls, only a short while after a brutal murder takes place in an art gallery and it is terrifying. DaCosta has you on the edge of your seat, sitting in fear of what’s about to happen next.

The whole film is terrifying and it’s one that’s really worth seeing on the big screen. It’s a relief that I was sat in the cinema wearing a facemask otherwise everyone else there would’ve seen my jaw wide open for almost half the film’s runtime. It’s such a relief to go and see a horror film that has you genuinely scared. Every single time the Candyman appears, DaCosta has you hooked. This is, in part, due to the excellent cinematography and terrifying score. And even when the Candyman doesn’t appear, it’s incredibly suspenseful and claustrophobic. Just the sound of bees is enough to put you on edge.

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Early on Anthony gets stung by a bee which leads to some very disturbing body horror as that sting starts to evolve and turn into something else. And the film gets this mix of types of horror really well as it’s not all blood and gore and brutal murders. There is of course a fair bit of blood and some tense murder scenes, but that’s not all there is to Candyman.

One problem with the film is the ending and the whole final act. It feels too rushed as it gets bogged down in plot as we reach the film’s finale. Up until then the film has done a great job of getting under your skin and frightening you and whilst it still manages to do this towards the end, it loses you a bit as it starts to get far more complicated with it trying to shoehorn too much into too short a time. Most of the film takes its time in developing its ideas, however it dials everything up a notch for the finale far too quickly. The film could have gone on for another twenty minutes and it could have been twenty more really suspenseful minutes as well. But instead it draws to a close and the end title card flashes up just a bit too soon for my liking, leaving the ending feeling a bit rushed and underdeveloped.

Verdict

Candyman is an excellent and frightening horror film that’s even better than the original and is sure to get under your skin despite a rushed ending. It’s got excellent performances from the whole cast, but in particular Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Colman Domingo, leaving you with a new Candyman tale that feels really fresh.