Nia DaCosta has given us an instant classic with the new Candyman. I see it as neither sequel nor remake nor reboot but also all of the above. It is it’s own entity, original it its thinking while using the source material as a backdrop for a new story.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays Anthony, an artist struggling with early successes as gallery owners wonder if he has lost his flare. His girlfriend is a successful art gallery manager living in a new pricey apartment with Anthony, at the exact location where Cabrini Green used to stand. The neighborhood has been gentrified. Soon, desperate for new inspiration, Anthony stumbles across the Candyman urban legend that has all but fallen into obscurity since the ’90s. As people start dying, Anthony begins to lose his grip on reality. His relationships and life begin to fall apart.
This new Candyman is brilliant. There is hardly a moment that is uninteresting and it is never boring. There is one scene, in a high school bathroom, that does feel like an add on at the last moment. Three girls say “Candyman” five times in the mirror and subsequently die horrible deaths. Granted, the scene is meant to show how quickly urban legends can spread. While the rest of the film tells that story wonderfully, that one specific scene feels out of place. Something from a mediocre horror film from the 1990s.
While that one scene missed the mark, what this film does well is having a genuinely portrayed gay couple. Their relationship with each other, and with those around them, is real (for lack of a better word). Honest. And not at all forced. As natural as every other character in the film. More of this, Hollywood!
Nia DaCosta’s vision deserves to be seen. While Jordan Peele left his fingerprints on it in the writing process, this is very much Nia’s film. A strong addition to a genre that has had a very good year. Candyman stands out as one of the best, and that is no small feat with films like A Quiet Place II and Old already out this past summer.
Side note – Coleman Domingo is one of those actors who deserves to be seen. His presence in this film is an added bonus. If you liked him in Fear the Walking Dead, you’ll love him in this.