Movie Review: Candyman (2021)

Based on “The Forbidden,” a short story in Clive Barker’s Books of Blood, the 1992 film Candyman was a commercial success, spawning two sequels, and its central figure, played to perfection by Tony Todd, was seared into the collective consciousness of a generation, making us wonder — What would happen if I said Candyman five times while looking in the mirror? Nearly 30 years have passed since the release of that iconic cinematic masterpiece, and a direct sequel to it has been unleashed upon the world by Nia DaCosta, Jordan Peele, and Win Rosenfeld. Is it a blood-splattering good time? Read on for my thoughts.

From the opening credits scene that slowly pans a foggy, ominous cityscape to the unmistakable typography of the words that appear on screen, it’s clear from the outset that the 2021 Candyman sequel is a love letter to fans that simultaneously pays homage to the original while expanding upon mythology of the first. Nia DaCosta’s camerawork is incredibly stylish and well done. No quick cuts, just a deliberate pace with inspired angles. I also love the music, which includes updated themes from the 1992 movie. And the fact that a character in this iteration is named Clive — a clear tip of the cap to the man whose story inspired this entire franchise — is pretty damn cool!

Similar to Halloween (2018), Candyman can be watched back to back with the original. This sequel recounts the plot of the first entry, and moves the story forward in a fascinating way, which I won’t spoil for you here. The screenplay features dialogue about the Black experience, gentrification, police brutality, white people thinking they understand what it’s like to be Black but not having a clue, and more. As someone who adores sociology and horror, I love how this movie marries those two worlds to create a cinematic experience that entertains and enlightens. It’s got both sizzle and steak.

The one moment I was looking forward to above all else was seeing Tony Todd in Candyman. It was worth the wait, and I’m sure longtime fans will enjoy the moment just as much as I did. Candyman is worth watching multiple times, not just once. Yet again, Jordan Peele has done a phenomenal job in the world of horror, and Nia DaCosta was masterful behind the lens. So, go ahead, say “Candyman” five times while looking in the mirror — I dare you! And, above all else, go see this film and savor every moment . . . because it’s sweet as honey.

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