As film fans, there’s always a handful of films that we allow to pass us by. This isn’t usually a comment on their quality or our willingness to enjoy them – sometimes, we’re just a little late to the party.
A sequel to the 1992 horror classic of the same name, Candyman is a far morre interesting film than it may seem. As with many legacy sequels to horror movies, it eschews the logical use of a number to denote its place in the franchise (as with Scream and Texas Chainsaw Massacre), instead reusing the title of the original. Though this makes it seem like a reboot, it’s a direct sequel to 1992’s Candyman – and, unlike other legacy sequels, its title serves as a clever link to the story of the titular character.
In-universe, the Candyman is established as any one of a number of figures who are consumed by the legend, making the use of the exact same title a meta nod to the franchise’s central premise. The film itself is steeped in the same sort of artistic symbolism, focusing on an artist who begins to become intrgued by the urban legends surrounding the area of Cabrini-Green, where the Candyman once served as the resident boogeyman.
With Yahya Abdul-Mateen II starring as Anthony McCoy, and Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and Colman Domingo in supporting roles, Candyman refreshes the unsettling mythos introduced in the first film. As with the 1992 original, the film explores themes of racial injustice and societal racism, as well as the idea of the past haunting the present. Candyman blends these ideas excellently, using the legend of Candyman to subtly reinforce the idea of how disrespecting the past can be dangerous, but that showing it the proper reverence can be scarring.
Other than its exploration of an interesting and meaningful central theme, Candyman is relatively average. Its horror sequences aren’t overly scary, giving the film a real style over substance feel. It’s racial allegory is thorough and hard-hitting, but there’s no depths beyond it, making it feel a little heavy-handed at times.
There are one or two twists and turns that make Candyman interesting, and overall, it feels like a worthy continuation of the franchise. It’s not the most intelligent film ever made, but it comes with enough deeper meaning to carry a message, and that elevates it above many of its horror contemporaries. Visually, it’s well-presented, and quirks of the cinematography make it feel distinctly artistic throughout.
Candyman works as both a sequel and as a modern expression of racial injustice. However, its bleak ending offers little hope, which is simulatenously powerful and depressing, making it an interesting but relatively transparent film.
Summary: Candyman is a sound continuation of the franchise and stays true to its central theme. However, its artistic approach rings decidedly hollow against the film’s straightforward story.
Highlight: The silhouette puppet show that plays over the credits acting out scenes of racial injustice and murder is as powerful as anything else in the film, with the added quirk of its creepy visual style making it utterly hypnotic.