Candyman (2021)

Director: Nia DaCosta
Writer: Jordan Peele, Win Rosenfeld, Nia DaCosta
Sequel to: Candyman
Cast: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Colman Domingo, Kyle Kaminsky, Vanessa Williams, Brian King, Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd
Seen on: 8.10.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism, white supremacy

Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is an artist. He lives with his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris) in a gentrified area, formerly known as Cabrini Green. After Brianna’s brother Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) tells them about the legend of the Candyman that haunted Cabrini Green, Anthony becomes obsessed with the legend, centering his newest artwork all around it. But the Candyman seems to take over more than just Anthony’s art.

This Candyman takes the racial politics of the first one and brings them to the foreground, wrapping them in scary, visually striking package that has a whole lot to say.

The film poster showing the silhouette of a man with a hooked hand on a yellow background. The name Candyman is printed five times.

The original Candyman film was already very racially charged, if you will. But it still ultimately centered Helen’s (Virginia Madsen) white perspective. With a Black creative team behind it, this new Candyman focuses on the Black experience and brings that front and center. Thus it becomes a statement on the continued way white supremacy violates, kills and harms Black men (the experiences of Black women take a back seat here).

And it is a powerful way of showing the historical parallels and continuities while also meditating on how difficult it is to express. Anthony struggles hard to make his art speak to people (especially since criticism at least is in the hand of white people). And the Candyman himself, the embodiment of this history of violence, is either forgotten or the stuff of urban legends.

Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) kneeling in front of his art.

But the film isn’t “just” an absolutely interesting take on the story and on racial politics, it is also a very effective film that neither shies away from the gore or body horror, nor forgets that it is more than just an excuse for showing blood. DaCosta has a sense of flair that is apparent in every second of the film. The shadow puppet animations throughout are hauntingly beautiful in particular.

After the film had only a small cinematic run in Austria (with no screenings in English) and a couple of reluctant critics, I feared the worst and pushed off seeing it a for a bit. But I’m glad to say that I need not have worried. This Candyman is a wonderful extension of the original.

One version of the Candyman holding out some candy.

Summarizing: excellent.

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