Spread it or ignore it?

Now on VOD, the 2021 version of Candy is a “spiritual sequel” to the cult 1992 horror classic, wait, wait, don’t run away! It’s worth ignoring the annoying buzzwords in quotes and sticking to them, as there’s an awful lot of talent involved: Producer / Co-Writer Jordan Peele, Director / Co-Writer Nia DaCosta (soon to be famous for directing the Marvel film Wonders) and stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonah Parris. The original film was reasonably well received upon its release, but has grown in its cultural cache ever since, with the current context drawing its latent and incisive racial commentary. So it makes sense for Get out and We guy Peele, the most invigorating name in modern horror, to revisit it.

CANDYMAN: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

The essential: Chicago Cabrini-Green Projects, 1977: A child drags a basket of dirty clothes across the yard to the laundry room. We notice things, especially if we have seen the 1992 Candy – things like an exterminator panel with a bee drawn on it, a big ugly hole in the wall, reflections in the glass and / or mirrors, anything that looks like a hook. From outside the building, we hear the kid screaming, and two nearby cops rush inside. CUP ON: Cabrini-Green, 2019. We notice things like “luxury lofts,” fancy restaurants and bodegas that probably stock organic kumquat oil lip balm and $ 12 bottles of water. quadruple reverse osmosis drinking water. The old projects are closed, a ghost town left to be devoured by the weeds.

In one of these luxury lofts lives a couple. Brianna (Parris) has a successful art gallery and Anthony (Abdul-Mateen) is a painter in the midst of a creative drought. One night, after a glass of wine or two, his visiting brother Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) tells a ‘scary story’, and it’s rather familiar – it’s about Helen Lyle, the protagonist of the original film. , played by Virginia Madsen; we see it re-enacted via spooky shadow puppets. By for the course, the facts are distorted and the timeline is blurred, as if it had been funneled through the phone game for nearly three decades. This captivates Anthony to the point that it seems like he’d rather read old news about Helen Lyle on his phone than have sex with Brianna – a harbinger of horrors to come? Of course looks that way.

The next day, Anthony is pressured by an art dealer to find something to paint, so he pulls out a bit of blah on the socio-political history of Cabrini-Green. And he chases after him, looking a lot like Helen Lyle as he wanders around the projects, lighting up spooky dark and dilapidated rooms with light from his camera flash. A bee stings him on his brush-wielding hand, which could be significant as the plot unfolds! Who knows! He meets a laundromat owner, William (Colman Domingo), who informs him of the legend of Candyman – you know, say his name five times in a mirror and the killer sticks his hook hand in soft spots until that you don’t have enough blood left in your body to keep you alive. Anthony gets to work and sets up a setup that includes a mirrored medicine cabinet and written instructions on how to get your ass murdered. An arrogant high school girl with a ’90s scrunchie in her hair and an arrogant art critic visit the facility, but it is sure to come to naught. Meanwhile, Anthony’s bee sting looks really infected – delicious scabs oozing with pus – but he’s in the area, combing his head. Everything will end well, I bet.

CANDYMAN FILM 2021
photo: © Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

What movies will this remind you of? : This is the best place to mention how the DaCosta movie ignores the two 90s. Candy suites, which have opted for slashers stamped on the atmosphere and ideas. DaCosta Candy clearly wouldn’t exist without Get out; his style and vision reminded me Leave the one on the right in and It follows.

Performances to watch: I would blame the script for not fully emphasizing its characters or not allowing its cast to realize their potential. Abdul-Mateen and Parris are very good here, but they can surely do more.

Memorable dialogue: “Do you need a hand? – Anthony delivers a line that would certainly be harmless in another movie franchise

Gender and skin: Nothing.

Our opinion : One of the most striking components of the original Candy is his use of the plum-purple color to deep blues during his graphically violent moments – the type of scenes that go a bit wide-eyed, that make you feel more dismayed than you might think. DaCosta Candy accomplishes a similar texture via today’s scary movie day trope, Body Horror, as Anthony’s Bee Sting is like, hey, welcome to Scab and Fingernail, Wes’s hip new restaurant. Craven in the newly revitalized hipster neighborhood. And Anthony of course chooses the Cabrini-Green / Candyman lore until all of its spiritual ugliness is exposed and glistening, stopping a few nuances from Cronenberg’s. Fly, but still satisfying the faithful gore, while inspiring a significant wrinkling of the buttocks on the part of the sensitive types of the public.

Thematically, the original Candy stands strong and tall on both feet, which stands for DaCosta and co. had to be clever to concoct a story that was both fresh and familiar, and one that could be adapted to existing lore. They’ve crafted a surprisingly robust reiteration and expansion of the original plot, and it doesn’t feel over-the-top or unnecessary. The new movie does have a few callbacks to the first: classic slasher freakouts, a scary toilet scene (DaCosta the reverse keeping the perspective mostly from inside the booth this time), a Madsen vocal cameo, and a dinner scene. update populated by unbearable intellectual blowers. And like the first film, it nicely backs up its drama in its many moments where the characters look at each other in the mirror, willingly or unwillingly tempting fate.

The storyline tends to disperse provocative characters and situations seamlessly, like cheese balls thrown at squirrels, and the plot stumbles once or twice on its own twists and turns. But DaCosta pulls through, leading with intention, purpose, and visual panache. She ends up lining up some of the scattered pieces, although she doesn’t quite catch all of the provocative red herrings in her net at the end. The story tackles white supremacy in different forms – violent cops, gentrification, and it’s surely intentional that people who mock Candyman’s lore are white, with the urban legend functioning as a metaphor for black perspectives.

There are times when DaCosta et co. tend to hammer nails in their heads, opting for an open, literal explanation instead of suggestion. But it would be misleading to say that the film isn’t powerful – what it lacks in crispness and subtlety it makes up for in style, intensity, and a strong climax that’s a nightmare come true.

Our call: Stream it. New Candy is far from perfect, but it’s vibrant and immediate, and stays true to the intent of the original film.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work on johnserbaatlarge.com or follow him on Twitter: @johnserba.

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