Film Review: “Candyman” (2021)

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Chris Salazar

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Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in Candyman (2021)

When I was in the fifth grade, I went through a major horror phase that started with watching Freddy vs. Jason on HBO. I soon moved on from Freddy and Jason to Ghostface from Scream, Michael Meyers, and all of the other slashers that the horror genre had to offer. At the time, however, not very many horror villains had as much to say Tony Todd’s titular Candyman did in the 1992 horror classic. In the era that has now brought us films such as Get Out, Us, and The Purge, how does that the 2021 reboot/sequel fare? Let’s say his name and find out!

The Plot

Taking place 27 years after the events of the original film, an up-and-coming painter (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his partner (Teyonah Parris) move into the gentrified neighborhood of Cabrini Green. After Anthony converses with an old-timer and long time resident of Cabrini (Colman Domingo) and learns about the urban legend known as Candyman, Anthony becomes inspired to use the stories of Candyman as the theme for his artwork and goes into a deadly deep dive that ends up putting his sanity at peril as well as everyone around him.

Produced by Get Out and Us director Jordan Peele, I had some fairly high expectations going in. While I wasn’t necessarily crazy about Us, Get Out was an incredible film that not only made me (in a good way) uncomfortable but, also channeled its social commentary into excellent writing. As for Candyman, it, fortunately, falls into the latter. The screenplay that is written by Jordan Peele, Win Rosenfeld, and the film’s director, Nia DeCosta is excellent. Candyman operates at a slow burn pace similar to art-house horror movies like the 2017 Darren Aronofsky film Mother! While I didn’t mind the long breaks between moments of carnage, those looking for a 90-minute slash fest with a record-breaking body count might.

Considering the lore behind Candyman and Jordan Peele’s desire to use the horror genre as a means to reflect upon our current social climate, the film was bound to having a few things to address and it does so in spades. The film pulls no punches when it comes to systemic racism and gentrification. It does a pretty solid job of conveying its message without becoming overly preachy and, unlike In The Heights, does a better job of addressing gentrification…

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Chris Salazar

28 | Fiction Writer | usually writes about anything but, mostly about film