Directed by Nia DaCosta
Starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
“Here we go, another reboot….yawn,” my brain said as I sat in an empty theater.
Was the original Candyman (1992) a masterpiece? Was it so good that any attempt to remake or reboot it could be considered blasphemy? No. So what was my problem?
My problem is that recent horror remakes/reboots have been forced homages with little reverence to the original. Do you need some examples? Okay. Here’s a few:
Carrie. Twice. Please stop trying to recreate the De Palma masterpiece. Flatliners? I mean, why? Also, how many Michael Myers films do we need? (I will answer that. Just one – John Carpenter’s 1978 original.) What about Gus Van Sant’s Psycho? I appreciate your love of Hitchcock, Sir, but please don’t ever do that again. And how dare you touch Adrian Lynne’s masterpiece, Jacobs Ladder, David M. Rosenthal?
I could go on and on ad nauseam. I could even poop on Nicolas Cage in Wicker Man. But I won’t. (Oops, I just did!)
Thankfully, this year’s Candyman breaks the trend and earns the rare “better than the original” designation. Race and art are the lifeblood of the story and much more important than the actual blood being spilled. Director Nia DaCosta takes the metaphorical subtext to a whole new level.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen stars as Anthony McCoy, who may or may not have something to do with the original film’s climax. He brilliantly starts his arc with almost a depressed confidence that gives way in small doses to full on manic instability. By the end of the film, he gives a horror film performance for the ages.
Hot off her role as Monica Rambeau in Wandavision, Anthony’s girlfriend – and our portal to the Chicago art scene – is played by Teyonah Parris. She may play a superhero on TV, but as an actor she is most definitely superhuman. Throughout the first act, she conveys the confidence and panache of a young professional perfectly. For the rest of the film, she becomes the audience’s conduit for sadness and terror. She deserves a Supporting Actress nod for this role in a genre that is overlooked by the academy, (Toni Collette was robbed in 2018).
Okay. Enough about the amazing actors. Candyman is shot like a beautiful art house film, not a horror movie. Are there some jump scares? Sure. But paramount to the immersion is the sometimes static and mostly slow-moving camera that gives us time to feel fear and confusion. DaCosta is new to me, but, after this, I will be checking out her first film, Little Woods (2018).
If other, better-than-the-originals Suspiria (2018) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 film) are both A’s, then this the second Candyman is a B+.