The original 1992 Candyman is my favourite horror film of all time, no question.
Tony Todd’s bee-covered visage still haunts me to this day, and the storytelling prowess and horrific tales passed down in the original were even scarier than the character actor’s nightmarish villain.
So it was with apprehension that I went into a spiritual sequel in 2021, expecting the substance and slow-burn of the original to be entirely foregone for blood and guts.
But by God, co-writer and producer Jordan Peele works in tandem with writer-director Nia DaCosta to create a Candyman with a new vision and mythology that both respects the original and brings something new to the table.
It follows Anthony, a brilliant artist struggling for inspiration. He hears about the dark history and legend of Candyman, and the havoc he sowed on housing project Cabrini Green in Chicago. Now gentrified, with the historic murders all but forgotten, the spectre of the hooked man will soon be awakened once again.
But this isn’t just some gorefest horror film. It’s an exploration of class, race, police brutality, cultural appropriation and the importance of remembering our history, even it’s traumatic.
Starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who did Oscar-worthy work in The Trial of The Chicago 7, it’s a game cast who lend some dramatic credibility to things. Teyonah Parris is amazing as a concerned partner watching Anthony lose grip, and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett steals scenes as her outspoken brother.
But truly, under-appreciated Colman Domingo brings some serious gravitas here to the proceedings, and shows a side I haven’t seen before.
It’s rare to watch a remake that manages to improve on the original in many ways, but Candyman (2021) defines itself enough to be considered a reimagined, fresh film all its own.
Candyman is a cinematic horror masterclass, and one that remains to be both intensely relevant and raw.
This is an exercise in brains and blood that marks the most fully-realized vision for a horror remake I think I’ve seen in at least a decade. It’s safe to say I’ve found a movie worth adding to my compulsory annual Halloween viewing list.