“Candyman” Movie Review

Having seen only the trailer to this film, I was intrigued to see what Nia DaCosta would deliver with her latest film Candyman. This new movie (co-written and co-produced by Jordan Peele) is the latest addition to the franchise and takes place 30 years after the original 1992 horror film about a killer named Candyman haunting a housing project in Chicago. Actors Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris and Colman Domingo are joined by Tony Todd, Vanessa Williams and Virginia Madsen who reprised their roles from the original 1992 film.

I’ll be completely honest in admitting that I went into it without having seen any of the previous installments. Let me take you on a quick walk down memory lane to explain. A very young Rosa was once exposed to The Exorcist (1973) and was and is still forever traumatized by it. Needless to say, I promised to never watch the film and to do everything in my power to avoid any horror genre films. That’s why I hadn’t seen the previous movies. But the posters, trailer, cast, and filmmakers behind this project immediately convinced me to give Candyman a chance.

(from left) Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Anne-Marie McCoy (Vanessa Williams) in Candyman, directed by Nia DaCosta. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures and MGM Pictures.

It disappoints me to report that I find myself in the middle with this movie. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either. For the first half of the movie, I was intrigued by what was unfolding but simultaneously confused because I struggled to follow the narrative. The directing and visuals were without a doubt the standouts. DaCosta makes various stylistic choices with the camera, including the opening of the film which at first glance had me concerned because the studio logos were inverted. I considered getting some assistance thinking that there was something wrong with the movie. It wasn’t until later that I’d connect the dots to make the connection to a mirror reflection. This constantly occurs throughout the movie with buildings. When telling the Candyman flashback storytelling they did it with some form of shadow puppets giving a uniqueness I wholeheartedly admired. Again, visually it was incredible to see DaCosta’s skills at work. 

However, my problem with this movie is the short run time and the lack of character development. Candyman’s social commentary could’ve had a stronger impact if the film would’ve shown me more rather than tell me. There are various sequences where gentrification, systemic racism, and other topics were discussed at length, but that’s it. The characters were telling me, and because these were casual conversations without much complexity in the characters, it felt more like a lecture than anything else. 

(from left) Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and William Burke (Colman Domingo) in Candyman, directed by Nia DaCosta. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures and MGM Pictures.

The acting was great all things considered. For me, it’s Afro-Latino Coleman Domingo who’s the standout performance. The kills were also exciting to witness although some of them aren’t as effective since they occur rapidly and felt like they were in there for shock value only. The last 30 minutes are perhaps the best part of this movie but sadly it’s so rushed that its abrupt ending disillusioned any little momentum I was beginning to build. Overall, Candyman had a great deal of potential that’s decreased by its runtime. I’ve never been one to make demands or push for a director’s cut, BUT this might be the exception to that rule. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing a 120-minute version of this film.