Categorized as a “spiritual sequel” to the ‘90s-era horror franchise, Oscar winner Jordan Peele (“Get Out,” “Us”) puts his unique spin on this reboot that combines the old and new. Director Nia DaCosta (“Little Woods”) follows in Peele’s creative footsteps of shying away from the usual horror movie tropes and figuring out her own way of breathing new life into a franchise. While “Candyman” is still full of hooks for hands, blood and gore, Peele’s message and that of the original film outweighs much of the genre aspects. Aside from the murderous aspect, “Candyman” has quite a lot in common with “The Last Black Man in San Francisco:” gentrification and its effect on young non-white Americans.

Artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and curator Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris) have been working together professionally and building a life together personally for a couple of years. Having recently moved into their posh, high-rise apartment in Chicago, Anthony and Brianna’s success and lifestyle isn’t what you would’ve found in the same area 20 years ago, where low-rent apartments once. Seeking inspiration for his next work, Anthony finds Helen Lyle’s research about the Candyman, an urban legend of a man who gives out candy and has a hook for a hand. Through researching the story, he meets William Burke (Colman Domingo), who knew the man known as the Candyman before police brutally killed him back in 1977.

“Candyman” 2021 is smarter than the average horror film, but along the way its intelligence also eradicates scary moments.

Peele’s script doesn’t alter or mess with the origins of the original film. Instead, he creatively writes around it, filling in plot holes and building a backstory that allows the two films to work as one subsequent story. Despite being centered around the snobby world of art curation, DaCosta steers the film far away from the ridiculousness we saw in “Velvet Buzzsaw” but borrows from other horror films — old and new. The film even utilizes a backstory technique “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” employed with shadow puppets.“Candyman” 2021 is smarter than the average horror film, but along the way its intelligence also eradicates scary moments (including jump scares) that many audiences might resent.

Did you buy a ticket to “Candyman” for scares or enlightenment — or does Peele’s script satisfy both?A great scene is when Brianna opens a door to a dark stairway leading to what looks like a basement, then closes the door and walks away. It’s these subtle inclusions that make you aware these characters are not what you normally see in horror films. Familiarity with the original will make this update far more appealing, especially because cast members from the original show up, and even Virginia Madsen’s photo and voice are used. “Candyman” is not, however, on the level of “Get Out” or “Us,” and managed expectations might do you good. “Candyman” could certainly be classified as a reboot, but it’s Peele who is rebooting the entire horror genre, one film at a time.

Final Thought

Peele’s script is clever in forging old with the new, but the result isn’t groundbreaking like the films he directs.


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