Nia DaCosta’s Candyman (2021)

shadow puppet retelling of Candyman

I was in middle school – possibly early high school – the first time I saw Bernard Rose’s Candyman (1992).  It scared the everliving fuck out of me.  Naturally, I immediately went into the single bathroom of our family house, turned out the light, and repeated “Candyman” into the mirror five times.

To this day, I am convinced that if I stumble into a dark bathroom Tony Todd will appear and gut me.

Over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate the nuance of the terror created by the movie.  It isn’t just the paranoia caused by the legend itself, but the paranoia – among other things – that created the legend.

Nia DaCosta’s sequel absolutely lives up to the legacy.  The script, co-written by DaCosta, Jordan Peele, and Win Rosenfeld, ties in to the original in a logical way that feels depressingly realistic.  The story has a lot to it, but I didn’t find the smaller details to detract from the main plot.  Rather, they served to more fully flesh out the world of Candyman and create a more engaging experience for the audience.  There are several non-intrusive details that tie the 1992 movie to present-day that feel like an acknowledgement of what we as viewers were hoping to see.

You find yourself really caring about the characters, and the cast does a wonderful job bringing them to life.  Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonah Parris anchor the movie and give it heart.  While there are many wonderful performances in the movie (and I don’t want to go into too much detail lest I spoil), I found my heart especially torn by the brief appearance of Michael Hargrove.

DaCosta’s directing is the real standout.  Each scene is beautiful and intentional.  Not one moment or frame is wasted, and she pulls some really interesting tricks to show what is meant to be happening.

Trav and I both highly recommend this movie.  It absolutely lives up to the hype.

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