Candyman (2021): A Detailed Review

Candyman: Don’t look in your reflection?

If you’ve ever played Bloody Mary during your younger years, then you’d understand the fear that comes when staring into an empty mirror hoping that the only thing you’ll see is yourself. And if you ever survived the bloody mary scare, how about you try out Candyman, all you have to do is say his name five times… Candyman.

Nia DaCosta’s new film, titled the same as the the original’s, Candyman has finally come out, and if you fear something being in your reflection then this movie will definitely bring fear into your life. I have to mention as well that with this premiering on August 27, as I am writing this article Nia DaCosta has made history with not only being the first black woman to direct a Marvel film but holding her own with the horror films, as this film has been a box office success, winning 22 million opening weekend. I was amazed by her work in this film and can’t wait to see her future films, now about Candyman.

Overview

Ms. DaCosta’s vision for this film really stood out, aside from the overall fear factor given from the story, her decision in shots are incredible. She understood the assignment, being that a horror film isn’t just all jumpscares, it’s a thought out process of inducing fear, making the viewers uncomfortable and not to mention the incredible use of special effects. This film is made well for the pleasures of both everyday viewers going to see it for the thrill of a horror movie, but also made for the dedicated movie goers, filmmakers, critics, etc. I had an incredible watch not to mention the unexpected real life light flickers that happened while the characters where summoning him, I am definitely going to see it again and I’m bringing my siblings with me to give them an early scary halloween. But if you don’t believe my word for it, just check out the trailer below.

Review

Now I’ve mentioned the director’s incredible abilities, but let me talk about the actors and actresses that also helped interpret the story. Firstly, talking about Yahya Abdul Mateen II’s performance as Anthony, our main protagonist in the film. Mr. Mateen II’s performance brings life to a man whose life is gaining a great turn for the worst showing the complications of not being able to tell whether something is real or not. Anthony goes on through his life trying to put his name on the map but when your name starts getting tied to murders, you don’t know whether to be happy or cautious, well for Anthony it’s clearly a positive as you see in the film. His steady growth into madness throws us the viewers into a sense of figuring out whether he’s actually doing the killings, if something else is at play, if there really is a curse, and overall wanting to know more.

Not to mention the sting he got on his arm, becoming more and more deteriorated for the plot twist at the end of the film. Now I don’t want to spoil the film because I want more people to go see, but having him being such an pawn for “candyman” at the end really threw me into a surprise which I didn’t mind. In addition, with the prosthetics used to provide a honeycomb skin texture, it really threw me for a loop and if you have trypophobia be warned this film has a lot of this at the end. The scenes really had me scratching myself and at times, I just couldn’t handle too much as it looked so realistic, but nonetheless a great addition to the film.

I also have to talk about Teyonah Parris who plays Brianna, Anthony’s partner in the film. At first, one would think shes just a partner for the main protagonist but as we continue forward there’s more into her story that meets the eye. Not to mention the ending of the film and her role on how Candyman’s legacy survives. I left the theater just wanting to know more about her character and her story with her father, and her link with Candyman and Anthony. We can see she has a traumatic past with the death of her father, watching him fall from the window in what seems like their home, her distaste for speaking of said events or even just being associated with his work. They mention her father and his work a bit but unless I missed something, left his story a mystery up for interpretation to the viewer. Ultimately, her performance was great and really threw in a good B-story to the film. Having her have to choose between letting Candyman live or die at the end really threw in an importance towards understanding parts of the legend though, not to mention the use of racial discrimination, police brutality, and abuse of power by white people and police.

We were given why such a legend exists and why certain people are used for the legend to continue, it ties in the the first man being turned into the hooked, tortured and bone showing person because of racial classist and supremacy back in the 1800’s, which I really enjoyed seeing. Having a film show entertainment value and yet still able to send a message without people walking out really says something about the importance of good storytelling.

Now with the antagonist in mind, we just don’t have the legend of Candyman, we also have what I would classify as his follower. Colman Domingo plays William Burke, a person that witnessed Candyman as a child while also seeing his sister dead after playing his game. When entering the theater room you would expect for him to be a good guy that’s helping Anthony figure out how to stop Candyman but the plot twist at the end really throws you out a window. His performance as a hiding antagonist was really sold to me, his switch up from a sane person to a psychotic fanatic really is well done and I give him a standing ovation for tricking me and what I imagine many others too.

Nathan Stewart-Jarrett left and Kyle Kaminski right.

Now although the 2 main protagonists and antagonist are phenomenal, we do have to add 2 great additions into the film to just add some comedic elements into the pacing. Nathan Stewart-Jarrett who plays Troy, Brianna’s brother, and Kyle Kaminski who plays Grady, Troy’s boyfriend. This power couple really just brought a lot of laughs during my watch, although it wasn’t enough to take away the fear factor, it was a nice add on. like adding sea salt to your chocolate chip cookie. Troy and Brianna’s sibling love really give off a realistic tone, having witty conversations, banter, talking a “toxic” partner, the over protectiveness, etc.

I also have to mention one more element involved in the film, the use of marionettes or the paper puppets we see when characters were sharing the story of Candyman. As a director, I always struggled on how to tell certain story elements in a film without the use of just dialogue, without the need of CGI, animation, etc. I would have never thought to use professional puppeteers, which gave of a child’s bedtime story tone.

All in all this film was a great way to spend my Friday night and really has me wanting to see more horror films, especially coming so close to the spooky holiday. I highly recommend people watching this film and giving props to Nia DaCosta as a director. Her skill in scene placement and incredible shots, have me waiting for her Marvel works. But don’t take my word for it, go and watch it today as the film is out now, let me know what you think, till next time, peace.

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