Thursday, August 26, 2021

Candyman Movie Review

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II stars in Candyman

Say My Name, Say My Name

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: For as long as residents can remember, the housing projects of Chicago's Cabrini-Green neighborhood were terrorized by a word-of-mouth ghost story about a supernatural killer with a hook for a hand, easily summoned by those daring to repeat his name five times into a mirror. In present day, a decade after the last of the Cabrini towers were torn down, visual artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II; HBO's Watchmen, Us) and his partner, gallery director Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris; If Beale Street Could Talk, The Photograph), move into a luxury loft condo in Cabrini, now gentrified beyond recognition and inhabited by upwardly mobile millennials. With Anthony's painting career on the brink of stalling, a chance encounter with a Cabrini-Green old-timer (Colman Domingo; HBO's Euphoria, Assassination Nation) exposes Anthony to the tragically horrific nature of the true story behind Candyman. Anxious to maintain his status in the Chicago art world, Anthony begins to explore these macabre details in his studio as fresh grist for paintings, unknowingly opening a door to a complex past that unravels his own sanity and unleashes a terrifying wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with destiny. Directed by Nia DaCosta.

Starring: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and Colman Domingo also star. Tony Todd, Vanessa Estelle Williams and Virginia Madsen

What's Good: Producer Jordan Peele ushered in a new era of horror films with Get Out and Us, and DaCosta continues that rich tradition with her scintillating sequel to 1992's Candyman. Traditional horror fans will appreciate the gore and usual assortment of deserving, hapless victims; but this Candyman oozes more than just blood. DaCosta's film is sharp and stylish with sufficient moments of levity and a clever, light-handed take on racism (i.e. "the true face of fear.") John Guleserian's photography is gorgeous, and the music (Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe) equal parts haunting and hypnotic. Heck, even the font for the opening credits looks cool!

What's Not: Once Anthony starts to unravel a bit, Candyman loses some of its steam (and originality.) That said, DaCosta wins us back with a satisfying ending that leaves the door open for a sequel or two.

Budget: $25 million

Runtime: (A mere) 91 minutes. Bravo.

Target Audience: Smart horror fans (who like their fair share of blood.)

Bottom Line: Color me crimson red (and impressed.) Almost every aspect of this film is terrific, including the acting (Abdul-Mateen, Parris (Dawn from Mad Men!) and a very funny Nathan Stewart-Jarrett.) If the horror genre continues on this trajectory, I might actually become a fan. At the very least, I'm suddenly excited about next year's The Marvels (DaCosta, Parris.)

GradeB+ (Can't wait to see what's next.)