Few horror conceits are as brilliantly skin-crawling as Candyman. The cult 1992 chiller, adapted by Bernard Rose from Clive Barker's story 'The Forbidden', imagines a hook-handed serial killer appearing when one dares to say his name five times into the mirror. What makes the titular Candyman even more disturbing is what he represents: a legacy of American racial injustice and violence, which is destined to engulf endless generations of victims who attempt to summon his presence.
In the title role, Tony Todd proved to be an unforgettable, intimidating presence, both seductive and terrifying at the same time (akin to classic horror icons such as Dracula). The legacy of Candyman now rears its head once again in the upcoming sequel/reboot, which promises to tweak the harrowing origins of the character. Top Boy helmer Nia DaCosta is behind the camera while Get Out and Us filmmaker Jordan Peele writes and produces. Here are two new posters that are bound to send chills down your spine.
It's a big ask following in the footsteps of one of the most intelligent and socially conscious horror films of the 1990s. However, based on their past records, both DaCosta and Peele have the chops. Indeed, one can't imagine Peele having made either Get Out or Us, which laced sly social commentary with blood-curdling terror, without Candyman having materialised first.
The story in the reboot centres on Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), an artist who is documenting the history of Chicago's Cabrini Green. The former slum is newly gentrified and held to be the area where the Candyman legend was born. Unfortunately for Anthony, his curiosity gets the better of him, and he soon becomes the newfound embodiment of unspeakable evil. Those with a knowledge of the first film will remember Anthony as the baby whom grad student turned Candyman victim Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) rescued from a bonfire.
Whereas the original story held that Candyman had his hand sawn off and replaced with a hook, before he was later covered in honey and stung to death by bees, DaCosta's film reimagines the origins. This time, it involves a mysterious individual offering sweets to children that contain a dangerous sting in the tail. ("Sweets to the sweet" was a quote cited regularly in the original movie.) It's a nice way of reinforcing the malleability of urban myths, suggesting how they change shape and detail as they pass down the generations.
That said, there are thematic connections with the first film, namely the implication of racially oriented brutality that yields generational mistrust and paranoia. The latest Candyman trailer (check it out below) reinstates snippets of the arresting shadow puppet teaser from last year – we can only hope for such artistry and insight in the finished film. The trailer also foregrounds the eerily foreboding piano strains of Philip Glass' 'Helen's Theme' from the first movie, suggesting a pleasing sense of continuity and heritage.
Teyonah Parris (If Beale Street Could Talk), Colman Domingo and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett round out the cast. Returning from the original film: Vanessa Estelle Williams as Anne-Marie, Anthony's mother who originally suspected Helen of murdering her child (in fact, it was Candyman framing Helen). And Tony Todd will be reprising his signature role as the demonic yet tragic title character, although whether he'll be a physical presence is unclear at this stage (we only hear his voice in the trailer).
Candyman is released in Cineworld cinemas on the 27th of August 2021.