Criticism of “Candyman” (2021) by Nia daCosta

Review of the movie “Candyman” directed by Nia DaCosta with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyona Paris.

With his tale of terror candy man, based on a short story by Clive Barker, Bernard Rose not only managed to convince the public, many critics also had words of praise for the first film released in 1992 and its socially critical substructure. This film, which has progressed to become a cult film, is linked to none other than Jordan Peele, whom the satirical horror works Get Out and Us became a star of the dark genre.

Already in the early 2000s, in the course of successful remakes and crossover films with icons of the horror genre such as Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Leatherface, an attempt was made to resurrect the candy manAlthough the idea from director Bernard Rose, who had made the first film in the franchise, met with little approval from producers. It was not until 2018 when the idea of ​​a new film of candy man, from the hand of producer Jordan Peele, who had already demonstrated his talent for the genre with works such as Get Out and We. Newcomer Nia DaCosta, who had already directed the indie drama Little Woods, he was hired as a director.

Fans of the horror genre always have mixed feelings at the idea of ​​remaking an existing story or bringing an established character into the modern age. If the ambivalent response to the Halloween by David Gordon Green or Fede Álvarez’s reinterpretation of Evil Dead by Sam Raimi alone, it is immediately clear that such a project is not exactly easy, at least not from an artistic point of view. Hence the candy man Nia DaCosta’s take a totally brave but smart path by posing the story as a sequel to the original film. However, unlike the Halloween Green, which follows the same path, is not so much about revisiting visual themes or developing established characters, but rather that the script, co-written by Peele and DaCosta, understands the story as a logical continuation of the Candyman, which is no longer a simple Interchangeable killer, as they are so often in the genre, but reinforces the concept of the character as a metaphor. If in Rose’s film the Candyman was already a symbol of injustice, poverty and inequality, in the sequel it is taken further as a reflection of the conflicts that have boiled over the American population, especially in recent years.

The new one candy man, which he refers to as a spiritual continuation of the original title and which ignores the events of the two sequels created in the mid and late 1990s, once again offers the African-American Peele, who here acts as producer and co-writer, the opportunity to pose the racism theme and focus on the painful experiences of the black population. These aspects are already touched on in Rose’s work. However, we are guided throughout the film by a white PhD student, played by Virginia Madsen, who, for her thesis, follows the trail of the fearsome figure named Candyman, who is feared by residents of the social housing district of Cabrini-Green, in Chicago, and who ultimately experiences an unusual emancipation.

Some thirty years after what happened in the original, the face of the then notorious district has fundamentally changed. Aside from a few empty houses, there isn’t much left to see from the old outbreak, which was home to mainly African Americans. Meanwhile, elegant and completely renovated buildings spring up everywhere, attracting an artistic and cultured clientele with no financial concerns. The painter Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris), who work for an exclusive gallery. The black couple lives well. However, when the young man decides to end his creative pause and is inspired by the remains of Cabrini-Green, he falls in love with the legend of the hooked-handed Candyman, whom he calls when he says his name out loud five times in a mirror. . Anthony’s paintings take on increasingly sinister features. And cruel murders suddenly take place around him.

Gentrification, the brutal history of the oppression of African Americans, rampant police violence, everyday racism, which unfortunately is still present today: candy man It has a lot to offer, it wants to raise awareness about current problems and it gives food for thought. The script doesn’t always seem to be fully developed. Some threads – like Brianna’s story – hang a bit in the air and some plot modules don’t fit into the overall construction convincingly. The scene in which a group of teenage girls bloody meet the mythical Schlitzer in a school bathroom can be dispensed with, as it does not offer any truly enlightening findings. Peele and his peers deserve praise for the idea of ​​how they do justice to the Candyman’s backstory from the original, but at the same time put a new twist on it. An emotional tipping point after an hour heats up the tension noticeably. However, with a somewhat hasty third act, the film offers a lot of strength and disturbance.

This does not mean that candy man let it be a political film, because in addition to the socially critical elements, DaCosta uses traditional elements of the genre in its production. Apart from the dramaturgy of the bloody scenes, as well as the typical atmosphere of the series, in which it is never entirely clear whether a character is dreaming or moving in reality, the image of the city shown in this new candy man it is especially interesting. As in Rose’s film, Chicago must be understood as a character unto itself, a mirror of the strange elements, for example through the omnipresent dark stories that play a role especially in places like Cabrini-Green. At the same time, DaCosta plays with the idea of ​​crossing borders, the one that exists between dreams and reality, but also that which exists between the best neighborhoods and those social centers where the Candyman and his legend are still valid.

Already known for Us and The Chicago 7 trialYahya Abdul-Mateen II leads a great ensemble, standing out as an artist who seems to lose himself in his obsession with a subject. In particular, it impressively portrays an artist’s current conflict over authenticity and the search for his own voice, so we can’t wait to see what we’ll see of this performer in the future.

As for the shock and terror qualities of candy man, you can listen to the director Nia DaCosta (Little Woods) attest to having an experienced hand. However, the shocking moments are not particularly surprising or refined. Most of the goose bumps are caused by intermittent shadow plays, depicting the range of suffering African Americans have endured over the centuries with the help of paper figures.

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Criticism of “Candyman” (2021) by Nia daCosta