In a fairly short time this new ‘direct’ sequel to the 1992 Bernard Rose film can be a bit choppy and unwieldy given what is makers need to cover on a cerebral and visceral level.
However, Nia DaCosta’s postponed Candyman reflects fairly well into a zeitgeist when it comes to horror permeated by racial injustice. In its slow-burn manner of chills it might drape over expectations of fans in its means through lurid peril and contrivance predicated by its more overreaching motifs. While providing a more well-earned opportunity for later installments.
There’s a finesse into the lore using the apparition of the original title character (reprised by Tony Todd) and the renewal of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green projects (as DaCosta and producer and co-writer Jordan Peele acknowledge and branch off the antecedent).
In the main housing area a swank flat is now occupied by artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II of The Trial of the Chicago 7) and his gallery curator girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris of If Beale Street Could Talk). Her brother Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) helps Anthony out professionally in conveying the aura of the titular hook-handed figure (including bees) when in front of a mirror and saying the name five times.
Colman Domingo ably fills the part of veteran local denizen William Burke who provides key background for the investigating, stung, tormented and stung Anthony: especially pertaining to prejudicial assaulting there. Abdul-Mateen is convincing in an arc similar to researcher Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen is heard but not seen) who isn’t seen in the same light as when Rose was behind the camera.
Ruminating socially within a genre isn’t as inspired here as in Peele’s Get Out or lesser so in US in this ghastly goading, crammed, if crisply mounted package. It does, though, improve on the schematic of a portal say in the recent Antebellum. Without mishandling the anguish, an ambitious Candyman has DaCosta (of next year’s The Marvels) and her contributions displaying acumen when it comes to the use of ‘shadow puppets’ and a compact in one case.
It may be hard to protest the modernization of a lurid, even distressing dynamic in trying to distance itself from a mesmeric, though overwrought pedigree.