The first “Candyman” from 1992 has been in somewhat of a unique position in the world of horror films. It has given us arguably the most prolific Black horror villain—the titular “Candyman,” a victim of circumstances that can speak to audiences, unfortunately, as loudly in 1992 as it does now. What Candyman means to the characters is infinitely more important that what he actually is, and I think that feeling is conveyed very well in both films. Sure, he can rip you apart at a moment’s notice, but that comes with the caveat of saying his name five excruciating times, until he’s all that occupies your mind, come the utterance of the last “Candyman.” To those outside of Cabrini-Green, he’s a monster. However, to those who know the real story, he’s much more.
Following the events of the first film, artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Marteen II) and his girlfriend, art curator Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris), have just moved into their new apartment in the newly-gentrified Cabrini-Green. After hearing of the Candyman legend from Brianna’s brother, Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jett), Anthony is pulled from his artist’s block and makes an art exhibit emulating and representing the Candyman legend. In the wake of this exhibit, Anthony becomes more and more unravelled, both physically and mentally, on his way to realizing he’s much closer to the legend as some, like Cabrini-Green resident William Burke (Colman Domingo), would lead him on to believe.
I think, through my very limited perspective on these types of things, that this film is rooted in trauma, both in representation and how to deal with it. This film has many different perspectives on how this trauma is processed, mainly through Anthony, Brianna and William. Anthony is consumed in ways that would spoil the movie if I divulged the details here, so I won’t take that away from you. Brianna, in living with watching her father kill himself, learns to live with that trauma, though it’s still a lot of baggage that she is almost always unpacking. William was, in a way, responsible for a part of this legend, and he wishes to lash out at those who have wronged him. These relationships manifest themselves in their relationship to our Candyman, who has from day one been a representation of generational trauma to the mostly Black residents of Cabrini-Green, a man who has been punished far greater than his misgivings. The story of Candyman is being retold nearly every single day, whether we get it on the news cycle or through the grapevine.
This film, though I’d say not as impactful as the first installment, is not far behind it. It’s a bit of a slow burn, but the expository stuff is not as bad as it could be for a film that came out twenty nine years ago. For the gorehounds, you will be satisfied when it goes down, though this film is much more in the thriller territory than straight-up horror. If you’re looking for gallons of the red stuff, you’ll be thirsty for more. If you’re looking for more of a heady horror, then this is right up your alley.