By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
At this point, I believe that horror producers seriously need to give Jordan Peele all of the sequel/reboots. YES! Offer them all to him. The man has a brilliantly creative mind for horror. He has proven it with his original films Get Out and Us, but also with his work in rebooting the Twilight Zone television series. And with the new Candyman, Peele flexes his creative skills, working with co-writer Win Rosenfield and writer/director Nia DaCosta, on an inspired and compelling new chapter in this popular and successful horror franchise.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II stars as Anthony McCoy, a talented artist hungry for inspiration for his next great creations. Anthony lives with his girlfriend Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris), an art gallery director who often attempts to help her beloved’s career. During a creative dry spell, Anthony decides to go bold and controversial with his next theme. After discovering that his gentrified condo building was once the site of the old Cabrini-Green housing project, he decides to base a series of artwork on the old tenements and the scary urban legend of Candyman, a supernatural killer believed to have haunted the projects and targeted its residents. As Anthony delves deeper into a darker headspace, and the bizarre and utterly gruesome killings begin, he believes he has unwittingly released the monster from the old horror stories.
I have to say that I was mostly blown away by this new sequel/reboot of Candyman. It truly amazes me what excellent direction, great direction, and exceptional editing can accomplish with a movie that runs a mere 91 minutes. In just a little over an hour and a half, this movie accomplishes so much! Now granted, the film does benefit from having the very first installment do some of the world building for it. Yet, at the same time, this new chapter does so impressive background work of its own. My only complaint, has to do with a certain twist in the story that becomes pretty darn obvious early-on in the movie. Other than that minor quibble, I feel nothing, but awe for what these filmmakers/storytellers have done with this film. I particularly appreciate that Da Costa, Peele, and Rosenfield have nearly retconned some of the problematic issues of the original film, and have made the lore of this horror story more timely and relevant.
Praise must also be given to amazing cast in the movie. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II continues to impress me with every new project he tackles. From the Watchmen HBO series to The Trial of the Chicago Seven, and now Candyman, Yahya’s star shines a little brighter and reveals a new facet to his talent with every performance. Teyonnah Parris, who certainly got my attention with her awesome and exciting turn in the Marvel series Wandavision, performs superbly here as Anthony McCoy’s beleaguered girlfriend Brianna.
Of course, even a great horror film can use some comic relief, and the much-needed levity in Candyman mostly comes from Nathan Stewart-Jarrett who stars as Brianna’s brother Troy. Stewart-Jarrett’s confidence, comic timing, and improvisational skills make his supporting character so hilarious and memorable. On the darker, creepier side, Domingo Colman does what he does best as William Burke, a tormented and seemingly traumatized former member of the Cabrini-Green projects.
I definitely need to keep this review to a minimum, because I fear if I say much more, I will spoil the absolute joy of discovering all that this genuinely strong and admirable horror movie has to offer. Even though I do like the original first Candyman movie, I feel that Nia Da Costa’s new movie surpasses it in several ways. I can only hope that this wonderful installment is the start of more, but I mostly hope that either the same filmmakers will be involved or that other talented filmmakers will get tapped for the task. One thing must remain the same, though. Jordan Peele must be involved. I feel that there is something truly magical about his talent and that we should expect something special the moment his name is attached.