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 hooked hand, easily killer summoned by repeat his name five times into a mirror. Now that the Cabrini towers are boarded up and abandoned, celebrated visual artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his partner, gallery director Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris move into a luxury loft condo that gentrification has allowed upwardly mobile millennials to inhabit – a far cry from the Cabrini Green hood.
Anthony’s creativity is blocked resulting in a stalled painting career. However, a chance encounter with a Cabrini-Green old-timer, Mr. Burke (Colman Domingo) exposes Anthony to the tragic true story behind Candyman. The tales allow Anthony to explore these macabre details in his studio as fresh inspiration while unknowingly opening a door to a past that unravels his sanity and unleashes a wave of violence placing him on a collision course with destiny. At some point, it was given me The Picture of Dorian Gray vibes…only Anthony doesn’t stay eternally youthful and become more grotesque as the film progresses
Directed and envisioned through a fresh pair of eyes with Nia DaCosta at the helm and macabre master Jordan Peele producing and sharing writing duties, this remake makes numerous bold, social statements on the dichotomy that surrounds black, brown, LGTBQ and women on a daily basis. with lines like, “…white people built the ghetto and then erased it when they realized they built the ghetto” or “…they love what we make…but not US” screams loudly through the exquisite delivery of dialogue through masterful thespians such as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonah Parris. DaCosta infuses some really interesting cinematic moves of an upside down day and evening Chicago to illustrate how Anthony’s world is about to turned completely on its head, while paying homage to classic Hitchcock shots featuring a spiral staircase. Veering away from the classic flashback. DaCosta was especially ingenious in communicating the legendary tale of Candyman using shadow puppets as opposed to live action. Loved THAT! There’s even an easter egg nod to the original with Virginia Madsen on the cover of a magazine.
Overall, I kinda dug this film. It was a little slow in some spots, but once it got the engine revved up, it never looked back. Produced by Universal Pictures, Candyman is in theaters right now making Nia DaCosta the first African-American woman to direct a #1 film. It’s out of the box and a little avant-garde, but fans of the franchise and the stars will be there for every step of the journey…bees and all.