Candyman arrives in theaters this week after being delayed for over a year due to the pandemic, and it almost feels like it was robbed of all of its momentum. From the moment it was announced that Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele were working together to bring the character back to the big screen, it instantly became one of the most anticipated horror films on the release schedule. The first trailer only ramped that up, and then….nothing, as the world shut down and the return of Candyman had to be shelved. All of that buzz went with it, and now the release almost seems a bit muted. Nevertheless, he is back.
Candyman Keeps Your Attention
This new Candyman is a very good attempt at bringing the mythos and character to the present day. What a star director Nia DaCosta is. She does such a good job filling every inch of the screen with interesting shots. Her use of space is key, the film is all about confinement and breaking free. Lots of tight shots than as the film unfolds become sweeping shots highlighting the settings and allowing you to breathe. This is a very different feeling horror film, very manic and scattered as opposed to the operatic nature of the original.
A lot of that has to do with the performances we are treated to. All three leads, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, and Colman Domingo are fantastic in the film. All three shine in multiple scenes, especially in the middle of the film when the story starts to take shape. Yahya Abdul-Matteen II is going to be a big star going forward, and you really feel for the guy as he descends into madness, driven there happily by Domingo, who almost goes too far into campiness territory, but knows how to reign it in. Parris is also quite good as the ambitious girlfriend, especially at the end of the film. No spoilers, but the realization she has at the end is a master class in reaction acting. Also a special shoutout to Nathan Stewart- Jarrett, who had me laughing out loud the whole film.
All of the praise aside, there are some pacing issues with the film. It keeps ramping up and ramping up, and then the climax comes very fast and almost too quickly. It almost felt like they had a hard and fast runtime they had to work with, and we leave. the film wishing a few more parts of the story could be fleshed out. There are a few logic gaps you need to gloss over as well. When watching, one almost stops feeling bad for these people saying Candyman into a mirror five times because they are bringing it on themselves, but in this age of anti-vaxxing and mask wearing apparently being against people's personal freedoms, it's not too hard to understand why some people would still be willing to risk it.
In the end, Candyman succeeds more than anything as being an important look at social injustice and taking back the character's story to make him less of a villain. He was made this way because of what was done to him and DaCosta does a good job taking that narrative and trauma back. There are some great reads and videos available here for you to research after you walk out of the theater. Just make sure as you leave you don't say his name near any mirrors.