Candyman Comes for White Gentrifiers

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Candyman 2021

The original Candyman film starring Tony Todd was an outstanding entry into the horror/slasher genre of film. In a field that was overwhelmingly populated by white slashers (Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Leatherface, Freddy Krueger), Candyman took the urban legends of Bloody Mary (where saying the name so many times in a mirror summons the spirit of the killer) and created a supernatural urban nightmare.

In Nia DaCosta's 2021 remake, written by DaCosta with Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld, Candyman is a role -- an inner city juju cast upon the next avatar of Candyman for the purpose of avenging wrongs done to the black community over centuries. Like a red shirt on a Star Trek away team, if you wear a blue shirt and a badge in this film, you're going to die. You're not only a target of Candyman's wrath but you also demonstrate (bluntly) that you deserve it. Yes, the film is that woke.

The story focuses on artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). His work has been recognized as highlighting the struggles of inner city black communities of Chicago, but he's struggling to take things to the next level. When he learns the legend of Candyman from a local shop owner, Sherman Fields (Michael Hargrove), he becomes obsessed with the events and begins researching them...and in so doing reawakens the spirit of the slayer in the mirror. But Anthony has done far more than just awaken Candyman, as viewers will eventually figure out.

Anthony's obsession takes a toll on his relationship with his lover, art promoter Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris). Brianna's brother, Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) is, ironically, the one who set Anthony on the path that led him to Sherman. And while Anthony descends further into madness and physical deterioration, Candyman begins a string of killings that take out the snooty (and white) critics of Anthony's art, as well as random (also white) teenage girls who just heard the legend and practice the summoning. The final confirmation that this Candyman is meant to be a heroic protector of the black community comes at the climax of the film when a black woman performs the summoning ritual and survives as Candyman appears and kills all the police around her.

Candyman is a film that deserves multiple sequels. What it didn't deserve is a reinterpretive remake.

2.0 / 5.0