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'Candyman' Review With Casey

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The original Candyman film, released in 1992, is a perceptive psychological horror exploring racism and the power of fables. This new version of Candyman is a thoughtful sequel about a contemporary Black painter who discovers an urban legend leading him down a path of bees and murder.

This version of Candyman functions less as a successful horror film and more as an insightful social commentary on the dreads of gentrification, whitewashing, and the police. Director Nia DaCosta (Little Woods, 2018), who also co-wrote the screenplay, deftly controls inventive visual motifs with mirrors, window reflections, and paper shadow puppets appearing unexpectedly from beginning to end. The death scenes are brilliantly edited with plenty of screaming and blood spatter but with surprisingly restrained violence.

Using this story to explore relevant racial issues gives Candyman topical weight, but some of the dialogue feels heavy-handed or forced. It's almost as if the screenwriters said, "We have to make sure as many White people as possible understand the struggles of Black Americans, so we need to explain it in the simplest and most direct ways possible. This might be our only way to achieve mainstream praise!"

As one of the most anticipated films of the year, Candyman does well as a sequel that stands on its own, and it repurposes the horrors of the original film into ominous retribution for past racial violence. I just don't think the current concerns of Black lives need to be laid out for everyone so obviously. Candyman could still have powerful relevance without the ungraceful explanations of racial inequality.

Candyman is certainly not a terrible film. It's much better than the awful horror remakes of Child's Play (2019) and The Grudge (2020). But it's just okay. It had parts I liked and parts I didn't like, so it may not become the horror film of the year.