The Reel Review

C

In this sequel to the 1992 horror cult classic, a struggling visual artist living in the now gentrified area where Chicago’s Cabrini Towers once stood taps into the macabre supernatural legend of the murderous Candyman. Say his name five times while looking into a mirror and he kills you from the other side, or so it seems.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in Candyman.

At first glance, it appears as though director Nia DaCosta (Little Woods), who co-wrote the screenplay with Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) and Win Rosenfeld, is going to give us a stylish horror/thriller with lots of scares and some provocative social commentary. But this Candyman is all flash and no substance. The bee covered psycho with the hook arm who once symbolized black pain and suffering is now an instrument of black vengeance, unleashing a very basic bloodbath against white people.

A bunch of white high school girls lining up to be killed in Candyman.

Candyman is a strange contradiction. It is heavy on gore but light on actual scares. It has a talented cast – Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, Us) Teyonah Paris (If Beale Street Could Talk, WandaVision) and Colman Domingo (If Beale Street Could Talk, Zola) – but underutilizes them in flimsy, one note characters.

Colman Domingo in Candyman.

The needlessly confusing film lacks the clever social commentary of Get Outyet it beats viewers over the head with a didactic message as it weirdly smacks of blaxploitation. Candyman can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be a horror film or social justice piece. As a result, it does neither very well.

REEL FACTS

• Tony Todd, Vanessa Williams and Virginia Madsen (in a minor voice role) are the only cast members from the original Candyman trilogy to return for this film, which ignores the second and third sequels.

Candyman director and co-writer Nia DaCosta

• Nia DaCosta, who has made history as the first black woman director to debut a movie at the number one spot (Candyman grossed $22.3 million its opening weekend) will next direct Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau in The Marvels, due for release in November 2022.

• LaKeith Stanfield turned down the role of Anthony McCoy for Judas and the Black Messiah, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. His co-star Daniel Kaluuya took home the trophy.

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