Candyman (2021) Review
Directed By: Nia DaCosta
Starring: Teyonah Parris, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nathan Stewart-Jarett, Colman Domingo and Vanessa WilliamsPlot Summary: A "spiritual sequel" to the horror film Candyman (1992) that returns to the now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood where the legend began.
Nia DaCosta’s 2021 “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 Candyman is, outside of Halloween Kills (2021) probably the most anticipated genre movie for a lot of people, myself included. So, when I was invited to a press screening, I jumped at the chance to see it Tuesday evening. It was also the first time back to the movie theaters in almost two years. 1992’s Candyman had a pretty big impact on me in terms of early horror cinema (I was seven at the time of its release). Just like in the movie, the myth of saying Candyman’s name in the mirror became fodder for maybe childhood dares. I only mention this because this is because the original is a movie that I firmly grew up with and had it planted in my grey matter. Hell, I even met Tony Todd a few times. But, as always, I am not one for hyperbole and I will give you my totally honest and un-bought reflections.
Visually, this movie is creative and at times, downright stunning. Production designer Cara Brower (who is currently working on The Marvels with Nia DaCosta) really does a jaw-dropping job. Brower and DaCosta clearly put a lot of love and careful consideration with the entire films look and feel. Little details are sprinkled throughout making repeat views a must. Keen eyed viewers will notice the colors yellow and various browns are expertly and meticulously incorporated. Even the shadow puppet silhouettes are cleverly echoed in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ways. As someone who has seen a lot of film, I certainly can tell when a lot of thought, care and love go into a project. Candyman is an oppressive feeling and stylish tour-de-force. Cinematographer John Guleserian (who is working on the infamous “Cocaine Bear” film) does some pretty bombastic camera work that feels like it vibes with this off-kilter world that DaCosta has crafted. Furthermore, the score, sound design and cast are all excellent.
Candyman (2021) is no doubt a staggeringly beautifully crafted movie that sadly feels weighed down by its pacing and screenplay. You will no doubt read reviews that this is the greatest movie ever. In fact, moments after leaving the theater, other early press were tweeting pretty much just that. Candyman will please a certain sub set of fans, namely people of a certain age that enjoyed the original film. However, the movie is narratively messy. What we’re left with is a movie feels very much like film with creative ideas saddled with studio mandated trappings. Also, seeing it with a crowd, not a single person screamed or even startled which isn’t a good sign for a what at the end of the day is a horror film. Candyman is still a powerful movie but sadly, at the end of the day, this is an interesting yet very messy confection.