After 29 years, the urban legend ‘Candyman’ has returned to the big screen in a twenty-first-century remake directed by Nia DaCosta and produced by Jordan Peele. Candyman (2021) is a direct sequel to Bernard Rose’s 1992 slasher-horror film of the same name, recounted via a modern-day storyline that extends on the original history of Candyman, the spirit, a hook-for-a-hand serial murderer.
The story follows emerging artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his art gallery director girlfriend, Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris), whose lives are turned upside down after learning about the urban legend of Helen Lyle: the woman responsible for the Cabrini-Green House Project massacres, kidnapping, and bonfire in the 1990s, as seen in the film Cabrini-Green. Desperate for inspiration for his artwork, Anthony travels into the gentrified Cabrini-Green and bases his project on the urban legend of Candyman, unintentionally unleashing a hazardous bag of worms.
A horror film in its most terrifying form was fantastic and somewhat weird to be able to see at home after a long year of streaming films, in a dark theater with surround sound systems and cut off from the outside world.
Scaring a 21st-century audience is indeed difficult.
As a culture, we’ve become numb to the senseless acts of violence and hatred that occur daily.
What can a horror movie show us that we haven’t previously seen in real life?
Despite this, I believe that DaCosta and Peele’s film was inspired by the tragedies of the real world, such as police brutality and racial persecution, as a method to conjure modern-day terror and genuinely shock someone to the core.
To DaCosta, Candyman is a sociological allegory for the world we live in today.
I couldn’t help but see George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, and the numerous other victims of racial injustice and police violence as well as the faces of the African-American victims of Candyman.
Anthony’s art piece, titled ‘Say My Name,’ uses Candyman as a symbol of racial injustice and focuses light on white tyranny in the gentrified metropolis of Chicago.
As well as spooky shadow-puppet cinematography and outstanding performances by the actors, the film’s slow-burn style takes the terror felt by the viewer to new heights.
Candyman is plagued by an unpleasant and growing uneasiness as the mysterious killings are linked to Anthony’s obsessive fascination with the events of Cabrini-Green.
However, it’s his rapid mental deterioration and subsequent loss of sanity that adds a terrifying sense of terror throughout the film.