Review: Candyman (2021)

To be perfectly honest, I was unsure about this film going in. The original Candyman is a horror classic and essentially cemented Tony Todd’s presence in cinema. Beyond that, it was simply an original, intriguing story that focused on marginalized characters and perspectives (in the way the horror genre does), so there was going to be some concern or backlash for any attempt at a reboot or such. Admittedly, I shared some of those concerns and doubts, but having Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele involved gave me some assurances that this reboot/sequel would not fall prey to other attempts like Black Christmas (both attempts were disappointing for very different reasons). And then the reviews came.

So, seemingly most reviews and criticisms (and to a certain extent the audience reception as well) claimed that this new sequel was too “woke” and attempted to bring in unnecessary social commentary and criticism into the film. Again, had seen this happen with recent horror reboots that shoehorned social and political commentary without any real consideration of how to organically weave such issues into its narrative and world. After finally having viewed the film, I am unsure what film these reviewers watched.

About the same look of surprise and concern I had after seeing the movie and reading the popular reviews for it.

The original film had massive social and political criticism along the same lines, and sadly, and issues that the new film discusses. In fact, the new film does a slightly better job of reinforcing this social commentary by having the titular character kill the actual perpetrators and villains of the social issues being discussed instead of the victims of said circumstances. Besides that change, the only real difference between the two films is that the newer one explicitly states and names the social issues being examined instead of just expecting the audience to understand. And considering how many fans claim the original had no social or political discourse, maybe that was not the best strategy.

The acting and dialogue was great. The music and score was even better. And the cinematography was on a whole another level. Genuinely this film should be watched and studied just for the execution of scenes and editing alone. The film even manages to justify its existence and story by tying itself back to the original film in a clever and logical manner without being pandering or, frankly, stupid. The movie is not perfect, but it is an intriguing entry to the Candyman franchise that paid respect to the original while trying to expand and move the character and mythos forward.

Effectively, many people just appeared to be annoyed with the continuing wave of media and entertainment discussing social and political issues and took out their frustrations on this particular film. Problem is that media, in particular the long lasting ones, has always discussed and criticized society and politics. Audiences were either too young or too ignorant, whether by circumstances or choice, to pick up on it; at least, a significant portion of the audiences were because a lot of use managed to figure that out awhile ago. So, if that is going to be an issue for audiences moving forward, well get used to it because the works and efforts of the marginalized and fringe voices are only going to get louder. And, frankly, the entire entertainment landscape is better for it.

As to Candyman (2021), it was a good horror film that is infinitely better than the two sequels and matches evenly with the original film of the same name. I doubt there will be a continuation of the franchise which is unfortunate because there was obvious talent, skill, and care behind and in front of the camera for this film. If you have a chance or any inclination, watch the film on streaming at various available sites. Ignore the reviews and discourse, even this one, and make your own opinion concerning the movie. I look forward to following the projects and works that these creators will make moving forward. May their talents prosper.

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