I saw Candyman in a theater with no one else in it, so I could scream for my Mother during the scary parts.
I considered the original Candyman to be an overlooked gem so I was excited when Jordan Peele announced that he was bringing back the story with Nia DaCosta writing and directing from a previous draft that he had worked on with Win Rosenfeld. Nia DaCosta can mostly stick the landing with a well-shot horror film and strong themes, even if a lot of the story is underdeveloped.
There’s a lot to like about this return to the classic horror franchise. Nia DaCosta might be one of the most visionary new directors out there. The style and tone feel so specific that I don’t think anyone else could’ve made a film like this. DaCosta’s also really good with pacing and has no boring moments throughout this movie. Though I’m looking forward to her next film with The Marvels I’m a little disappointed that it’s unclear when she might make a return to horror. DaCosta’s debut in the genre makes me think she can rival some of today’s best horror directors. I found her work on her to come close to or even beat the likes of Mike Flanagan or Jordan Peele (one of her producers).
The technical aspects of the film come together incredibly as well. This film is beautifully shot by cinematographer John Guleserian with some masterful editing from Catrin Hedström. Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe’s music is brilliant but the audio mixing, in general, stood out so much that I found it hard to think of the music separate from all the masterfully done sound cues.
Lastly, the acting is fantastic. Yahya Abdul-Manteen II brings a lot of the film’s likable yet also flawed lead character. While his chemistry with Teyonah Parris (who plays his girlfriend) doesn’t feel as strong as it should, Parris can stand out with her acting talents. My favorite performance came from Colman Domingo. My first experience with this actor was from the first season of Fear The Walking Dead and have wanted to see more of him ever since. He absolutely kills it in this movie and brings so much to this character that might demand more than many may think.
I’m going to end this by talking about Tony Todd’s return to the titular character. While he’s great in his scenes the reason I haven’t talked so much about him is that he ends up appearing in so little of the film. While this might sound bad you have to trust me that it’s a positive. There is a thematic reason that not so much attention should be drawn to the actor playing this character.
While I wouldn’t say there isn’t anything bad about the movie, its story definitely could’ve used more work.
The storytelling falls short in the sense that most of the characters and their relationships feel underdeveloped. Some certain emotions and moments don’t get explored enough. As a result, it can feel like the messages and themes don’t reach the emotional highs that they should. This is the most apparent in the leading character’s romantic relationship. It’s an area that feels like it should be a lot explored than it is because so much of the emotions of the film’s conclusion are reliant on this relationship. I will say that the ending and the final message was pretty strong but it’s hard not to feel like it could’ve been so much stronger if the story just went the extra mile with its characters. It’s hard to argue that the movie didn’t have time for these developments because the movie is shockingly short, coming in at just barely over an hour and a half. Perhaps there were cuts made to the script in favor of pacing. I can’t say that for sure but maybe they cared more about the tight and fast pace. I would be really curious to see the final script that was made before filming. I don’t know if there’s much more but I would like to know.
There are other storytelling moments that I can’t talk too much about as it would spoil the movie. Let’s just say that I was thrown off on the call to adventure for the main character. It makes things feel more random and portrays certain character goals as being reliant on luck.
I would recommend Candyman to people that have seen the original. Newcomers might be thrown off as the film assumes you have seen the original. I will say this will expand your enjoyment of the movie as it does cut down on exposition. I think there might be some good viewing for new people but this Candyman is made for Candyman fans.
While I think that Candyman doesn’t reach the heights that it could, it’s great horror viewing with strong commentary that I can see myself coming back to over and over.