CANDYMAN

★★★

SWEET, SUGAR, CANDYMAN

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Chris dos Santos
29th August 2021

Horror is not new to franchises. It's hard to think of a horror film that hasn't gotten sequels and spin-offs. For the first time since 1999, 'Candyman' has returned with a direct sequel to the original 1992 film in a similar vein to 2018's 'Halloween', both serving as a continuation of the original work but also modernising the iconic horror character.

Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, 'The Trial of the Chicago 7', 'Us') is an artist who is struggling to come up with ideas for an upcoming exhibition. His girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris, Disney+'s 'Wandavision', 'If Beale Street Could Talk') is a director at the art gallery, and one night her brother, Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, 'The Kid Who Would Be King', 'Vita and Virginia') and his partner, Grady (Kyle Kaminsky), come over for dinner. It's that where Anthony starts to dive into the legend of Candyman (Tony Todd, 'Candyman', 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen') - and when traveling back to the Cabrini Green Housing Projects where he grew up, he finds out he might have a more personal connection to the supernatural killer than first thought.

SWITCH: 'CANDYMAN' TRAILER 2

Nia DaCosta ('Little Woods', upcoming 'The Marvels') is a beautifully visual director; this is one of the slickest-looking horror films, sitting alongside the visual appeal of James Wan and Jordan Peel (who produces here). She uses a haunting shadow puppet show whenever characters talk about backstory, which is stunning and visually stimulating, animated fantastically by Manual Cinema.

John Guleserian ('Love, Simon', 'Happiest Season') is the cinematographer here, and while he normally works on rom-coms, he perfectly leaps into the horror genre here; the film is visually flawless. When it comes to the kills, they're the good kind of gory and sure to satisfy slasher fans - it teeters on the edge of campy and gruesome. There is also a lot of creativity with the kills - Candyman can only be seen in reflections, so there is a lot of 'The Invisible Man' style of kills.

This is one of the slickest-looking horror films, sitting alongside the visual appeal of James Wan and Jordan Peel.

Tony Todd returns as the titular character for the fourth time, and is delightful in the role. It's always exciting to see actors returning to franchises, and he perfectly jumps back into the role. Virginia Madsen ('Joy', '1985') and Vanessa A. Williams (TV's 'Days of Our Lives') also return. Unlike 'Halloween', this doesn't ignore the sequels, but is more directly linked to the 1992 film rather than the third entry.

The film has a few pacing issues, with the first couple of kills very spaced out before there's a huge eruption. Being 91 minutes, I wish it took less time character-building and more time with the titular character. The film also attempts to bring in real-world issues, such as racism in the art world and police brutality, and while both could fit into this narrative, it makes the short film feel a tad bloated. All the characters are extremely interesting, but if some were cut it could have made for a tighter sit. Horror has to balance scares and characters, and 'Candyman', which is great when it gets to its horror elements, could have befitted from leaning into them more often.

For fans, I'm sure 'Candyman' is a long-awaited return for one of horror's great slashers, but his modern comeback doesn't come without a few rotten candies. It's visually stunning, and I can't wait to see DaCosta sink her teeth into more projects, though I can't help but say it just needed a tighter script and the kills brought forward.

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