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Nia DaCosta’s ‘Candyman’ is a Horror Sequel Worth Watching

4 Minute Read
Aug 30 2021

The horror movie finds its footing in 1992’s Candyman and grows into something new and terrifying.

The movie pulled in a well-deserved $22.3 million at the domestic box office – also making it the first #1 movie on an opening weekend directed by a Black woman. This direct sequel doesn’t play it safe. It pushes, and it makes you think while it’s terrifying you. Just like the cult classic did in 1992 (if you have not, go watch it – the sequel makes more sense if you have). If you’ve enjoyed Peele’s work you will enjoy this expansion on the story that’s led by writer/director Nia DaCosta. She uses horror as a way to examine society, and does it in a way that weaves the two into a generational story of pain and terror.

Spoilers Below


The Cabrini-Green towers featured in the first movie have been torn down and replaced with new, luxury condos marketed to up and coming, young creatives. Gentrification has changed the way the area looks – but not it’s real heart. Artist Anthony McCoy and his girlfriend, gallery director Brianna Cartwright move into one of the units. As the story starts, McCoy’s creative inspiration and his career are on the brink of ending – until he discovers the legends of Cabrini thanks to a local. As he dives farther into the legend of the Candyman, he begins to lose himself to the boogeyman that lives in mirrors.

DaCosta takes the story of Tony Todd’s Daniel Robitaill and expands on its tragedy.

The new movie expands on the themes of the original – adding new layers to its commentary on gentrification, how communities are exiled in the US using economics, and how legends grow in those communities. DaCosta takes a different tact with its monster, though – Candyman becomes a sort of anti-hero here.

The movie opens in the late 1970s with a new Candyman, when the towers were bustling with people and a heinous crime was pinned on an outsider. Sherman Fields, a Black disabled man with a hook instead of a hand, is blamed for razor blades showing up in candy and injuring white children. He is found and beaten by police – and, of course, he’s not the culprit at all. Just someone that was convenient. Sherman Fields becomes the new face of the legend for a new generation of kids swapping scary stories and for McCoy as he delves deeper into Cabrini-Green’s history.

He discovers there hasn’t just been one Candyman, but many Black men killed unjustly on the grounds where the towers stood. All taking the mantle of the boogeyman that terrorizes the people through stories over time with Robitaill being the first. And McCoy being the most recent after he discovers his ties to the story – he was the baby saved from the fire (again, helps to have seen the 1992 movie), escaped and returned to meet his destiny.


The Good: re-working the myth this way is one of the better parts of the movie. It provides social commentary that works within the universe created by Clive Barker’s short story and corrects missteps of the original movie. Though we don’t see a lot of Candyman in the flesh, the use of reflections from the legend make him even scarier – the death of the art dealer and critic used every bit of atmosphere and framing to make you want to close your eyes and hide. McCoy’s transformation into Candyman is also pretty disturbing – that fingernail scene is super gross. The Tony Todd cameos are brilliantly done and don’t distract.

The Bad: the chemistry between the two leads (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonah Parris – who are both usually excellent) that are supposed to be dating is almost non-existent. It has a meandering problem – it has a path that makes sense and would do well to stay on, but it falls off a lot in ways that don’t serve the story. The commentary is a little on the nose. I think a more subtle approach would have benefitted the story more.

Overall I liked it, though. Maybe not as much as the first, but a lot of that has to do with the lack of a centering Tony Todd equivalent for a supernatural monster. His performance makes the original. I came out of the theater hoping that we get more movies from Nia DaCosta, so she can hone her craft. This is her second full-length feature and it shows a lot of promise. Will Candyman be her best? I doubt it. It feels like it’s just the start.



Author: Mars Garrett
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