A “spiritual sequel” to the horror film Candyman (1992) that returns to the now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood where the legend began.

The legend returns for a new generation in . Anthony McCoy () is an artist living in Chicago's Cabrini Green neighborhood with his gallery director Brianna Cartwright (). After hearing an urban legend from Brianna's brother Troy () about a graduate student named Helen Lyle who seemingly went crazy, Anthony becomes interested and decides to investigate further and he comes across William Burke (), who tells Anthony the legend of the Candyman, who appears to kill you if you say his name in the mirror five times. This sparks an obsession in Anthony, who dedicates his next art project to the legend, not knowing how true the legend is.

Candyman is a film produced and co-written by (Get Out) and directed by newcomer Nia DaCosta, which acts both as a legacy sequel to the 1992 film of the same time, while also rebooting the legend of Candyman for a new generation. The legend how now been reframed to include multiple African Americans, who were the victims of violence by law enforcement, coming back as the vengeful spirit known as Candyman. This legend becomes the obsession of artist Anthony McCoy, whose art installation on Candyman ends up resurrecting the long-forgotten legend. Not only does this result in the bodies piling up, but Anthony begins to suffer from hallucinations and inexplicable changes to this body.

Candyman is a textbook example of how to make a legacy sequel, in how it remains faithful to what has come before, while also taking the story in new and interesting directions. Probably the most interesting new director Jordon Peele and Nia DaCosta go in is the suggestion that Candyman is not a single entity, but a whole hive of vengeful spirits, who maintain certain characteristics, such as a hook for a hand. Not only does this provide social commentary on the endless cycle of violence against African Americans by law enforcement, but it also comments on the very nature of urban legends, which change over time. I also have to add how the many versions of the Candyman legends are depicted throughout the film by some very well-down shadow puppets.

With the titular character iconically played by Tony Todd in the original film, Candyman makes the stylistic decision to only feature brief glimpses of the vengeful spirit, who is seen predominantly in the reflections of mirrors. Instead, the main focus of the story is Anthony McCoy, whose growing obsession with Candyman begins to affect him both mentally and physically. I really do have to say that both his performance as Anthony and the recent HBO Watchmen series have made Yahya Abdul-Mateen II a name to watch in the future.

Overall, I really do have to say that Candyman does a great job at taking the story from the original and reimagining it for the modern age.

Candyman opens on Friday, August 27, 2021

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.