Candyman (2021) movie review
Candyman is a horror sequel/reboot of the 1992 original film of the same name. This time, instead of a journalist, we follow a painter who discovers and begins following the myth of Candyman, who in this film was a man unjustly murdered who now returns to murder those who say his name five times in a mirror. The film, written and directed by Nia DaCosta with Jordan Peele producing and writing, opens this weekend and thus far holds fairly solid reviews.
For those of you who haven’t been following along, we did review the original Candyman which we watched for the first time a few days ago. I thought it was quite good, but could have been improved by adding a bit more here and there and also not having the cheesiest ending that one could possibly conceive for that particular film. Now we have the new Candyman-
Get it? Cause that was the fifth time and- Oh never mind…
Anyway! Let me tell you, I didn’t really like it. Now if you watched the original and thought to yourself, “Wow that wasn’t bad, but I wish it was way more political and way less interesting.” Then and only then do I think you’ll enjoy the rebootquel of this movie. Otherwise there’s not one thing in this film that’s as good as the first.
Before I get into what I didn’t like, there are a few things that did really work! For one, the lore. This film takes the mantle of the original and, as you may have noticed if you’ve seen both the original film and the trailer for the new film, really runs with it. Some very interesting ideas are presented and, in the same vein as the original, this film does defy convention yet again with its worldbuilding and storytelling. (Less so, but still…)
There’s a supporting performance from Nathan Stewart-Jarrett that I thought was very good! He walks the fine line between comic relief and being an actual character, and I think he managed to outdo the rest of the cast with ease. Also it’s a good looking movie! I won’t like, there are so many uses for mirrors in this movie that I was as impressed as I was annoyed. Speaking of mirrors, there are also a few ideas when it comes to the violence that I thought were very effective. They totally went against the ambiguity of the original, but hey, as least they were visually cool. And yeah, that’s it.
Now critics do like the film, and for the life of me, I’m not sure why. Maybe if you separate the film from the original and craft a unique idea with some genuinely intriguing themes into something so focused on preaching that is loses the idea- if that’s the goal they did a good job. But the original Candyman works so well because its themes are so subtle, but also so apparent. You know they are there, but its the responsibility of the audience to interpret them. Tell a man something upsetting and you anger him for a day, teach a man how to learn the upsetting truths for himself and you anger him for a lifetime. Or something like that. What I’m trying to say is that I didn’t come to a horror movie to get hit over the head with police brutality. And the worst part is, you can have your cake and eat it too. Again, look at the original film.
Anyway enough about politics and the fact that this movie uses the word ‘gentrified’ like fourteen times, let’s talk story! Now the trailer made the film look- hard to predict. But Candyman hits the ground rolling, and gets to the inevitable conclusion so quickly that I immediately lost interest in the complete lack of mystery being presented. Is Candyman real or not? Well we see him kill people often, so yeah. Next? Oh well, what is this whole thing really about? Racism next. Oh- Uh, well what about art? Doesn’t matter next! And when interesting things to happen, they don’t really matter. I suppose if you look at the film entirely as an idea everything connects, but- why would you want to do that? This isn’t the 2017 Darren Aronofsky film mother! where there’s literally no other way to look at the film. You can look at the scenes in question and either point out the lack of meaning of discredit the literal interpretation of the rest of the film.
Another thing that really hurts this follow-up are the character arcs. Sure Yahya Abdul-Mateen II does a decent job, but his descent into madness starts so quickly that we don’t feel any attachment to his character! Then Teyonah Parris becomes more important, but we didn’t get to know her enough early on to care about her either! Also we get one out of context flashback backstory that never gets explained… I guess you don’t need to explain everything, but the connection between the flashback and the story it strong! And only mentioned once… Honestly talking about this is really frustrating.
Heck even the score is somehow less appropriate for the film than the original. Maybe that’s the point, and I’m more than willing to take that back when I listen to it, but the more I think about Candyman, the more I think everything just missed the mark. There are characters who don’t make any sense, references that don’t line up well with the original, and much like our protagonist’s on-the-nose art piece, we aren’t really given anything new. Maybe that’s the point? Maybe drawing attention to the film’s more extroverted themes will discourage- critics from disliking them for the story they feel so connected to? Yeah I get it. It just doesn’t make me care about the film anymore. I’ve been having trouble determining whether I want to give this film a 5/10 or a 4/10, but I didn’t hate it, I just didn’t like it. 5/10.
So Candyman? Did you see it? I mean the movie. I hope you didn’t see Candyman… Anyway yeah, leave a like or a comment below, we would really love to hear your thoughts! And if there’s anything you’d like us to write about, let us know! Thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince