Candyman arguably could have been a legitimately good movie. It had an interesting story that was far better than any of the previous movies. Unfortunately, it gets bogged down in the rhetoric that is spun by Hollywood and mainstream media.
It couldn’t get out of its own way with the racial justice that movies so often today shove down our throats.
I went into watching Candyman thinking it was a remake. I didn’t watch any of the trailers for it and only saw a few spots on social media about it, so I don’t know if that was the intention, but it’s actually a sequel. As sequels go, it wasn’t half bad. It was an interesting idea, although some of it was silly.
The movie takes place 20 something years after the first movie. Anthony McCoy, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is a struggling artist who lives with his art gallery director girlfriend in Chicago, Brianna Cartwright who’s played by Teyonah Parris.
Both of them do decent enough jobs with their roles, but no one in the movie gives great performances. They all feel like actors acting and not real people.
There’s not too much in the way of character development here. There’s some with Abdul-Mateen, but that’s about it. There’s even a moment we get a flashback with a character as a child, but that’s it. It’s never brought up again or talked about, just a bad dream.
One night, Cartwright’s brother and boyfriend are over visiting and he tells a scary story. About Helen Lyle and how she went on a murder spree. For those that don’t know or don’t remember, Helen Lyle is the main protagonist of the first Candyman movie.
This is where Candyman really interested me. Instead of telling what actually happened with Lyle in the first movie, it turns it into an urban legend and is mostly untrue.
It’s been 20 plus years, stories get told and retold and details change. It has become an urban legend at this point. It felt like a refreshing take, instead of just laying out “Here’s the actual story!” like most other movies do.
Of course, they have to beat us over the head with racism and the white supremacy talk. While hanging out and talking, they claim that white people “built the ghetto” and then cut it off when it goes bad.
As if when planning the setup of the city, a bunch of white people sat down and said “Okay, over here is where we’ll put the ghetto.” The movie is also heavy-handed with the narrative about police brutality and corrupt cops… I digress.
All the talk is about Lyle and the events at the Cabrini-Green housing project from the first Candyman. With the area desperately needing a creative jumpstart, McCoy goes and starts taking pictures around the area, taking in the abandoned buildings.
He meets a laundromat owner, Billy Burke, who tells McCoy all about when he was a kid. About a man with a hook for a hand that gave out candy to kids, his name was Sherman Fields. That was until a piece of candy with a razor blade in it found its way into the hands of a little girl. The police found him and did what police apparently always do, beat him to death.
Now if you’re a fan of the original movie, you might be saying “But… Shawn, that’s not Candyman.” You’re right, the concept is that there have been many different Candy… men through the years. It’s a silly idea and the weakest part of the lore they’re now trying to establish.
Maybe if they weren’t so lazy, they could have found a better way to tell this aspect of the story.
McCoy uses this for inspiration for his art, digging into the legend of Candyman and saying his name five times in a mirror or in this case any reflection. Thus the blood starts to spill. The kills in Candyman are genuinely well done.
They’re dark and creepy. You can only see Candyman in the mirror’s reflections as he kills. Kind of like in Nightmare on Elm Street. However, some feel shoehorned in. Characters that have no introduction and have no impact on the plot whatsoever are brought in just for a body count.
Again, maybe if they weren’t so lazy and so heavy-handed with the social commentary, more time could have been spent here.
It’s also in this we start to see a pattern immerge. It starts to seem like only white people are killed off. To the point when a group of teen girls has that one Asian friend, but she gets scared and runs off.
However, there is one scene a couple of black kids go into their bathroom and say Candyman five times. This was so far out of place, I have to assume this was studio heads saying “You can’t just kill white people in a movie about blaming white people for everything bad.”
If it weren’t for all the racial crap and ignorance, Candyman could have been really good. I’m no fan of the original movies and I went into this not expecting much. I knew there’s no way they could make a movie about a character that was an actual slave and not make it about racism, but there were some good elements here.
When I see movies pull this crap, I’m just like “whatever” and point out how stupid it is. Here it’s more annoying because they potentially had something good and ruined it.
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