The Halloween season is almost here and “Candyman” marks the beginning of this year’s surge in horror movies. Those that are itching for a return of the golden days of horror will be pleasantly surprised with what this film has to offer.
“Candyman” is a direct sequel to the 1992 film of the same name, which does not bode well for the general audience. Most of this new rendition of “Candyman” does stand by itself, but it can easily become convoluted when the film attempts to explain the origins of the Candyman. Couple this with the 1992 film’s “cult-classic” status and “Candyman” quickly becomes a nightmare to the average film-goer.
Despite this, “Candyman” pushes past this obstacle due to its incredible cinematography and convincing main character. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays a struggling artist, Anthony McCoy, who has a creative breakthrough upon the discovery of the legend of the Candyman. McCoy’s development does not merely happen within, he undergoes a physical transformation as the film progresses. His art even changes as he begins to lose his humanity. What began as blocky and child-like paintings soon turned into abstract and messy suggestions of the human form. The art shown is complemented by the cinematography and also manages to improve the quality of nearly every scene. The run-down projects of Chicago are visually striking, even in the face of their unlivable conditions.
“Candyman” wears its influences on its sleeves and proves to be a refreshing take on the horror genre, even if the ideas it draws from are from works that were released decades ago. It has a similar killer to Freddy Krueger from 1984’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” as the Candyman is a killer that is beyond the rules of reality. It also takes a page out of John Carpenter’s “Halloween” when it comes to inflicting fear on an audience. It removes the obnoxious violin sting from jump scares and instead lets them naturally startle the audience. “Candyman” has the restraint to not blare noise in the audience’s ear when the killer suddenly appears in the background, which is a welcome change of pace from recent horror movies that lack subtlety. The socially conscious aspects of the film provide a much-needed real-world weight, similar to Jordan Peele’s “Us” and “Get Out.” Jordan Peele is credited for producing and writing “Candyman,” so this inclusion is unsurprising.
“Candyman” is at its best when it focuses on its main character, but it suffers when its focus is elsewhere. The supporting characters are only included to push Anthony McCoy towards the truth of the Candyman and serve no other purpose. There are a few instances where tension built up in a previous scene is destroyed by subsequent scenes of supporting characters babbling about topics that barely concern the main plot. Some of these characters are closely connected to the mystery of Candyman only for plot convenience. There are also scenes with Candyman that have nothing to do with the plot and are seemingly only thrown in to keep the audience engaged through violence. Why these scenes of murder were not instead focused on characters attached to the actual plot of the movie is anyone’s guess. Strangely, the film takes extra precautions to keep general audience members entertained despite the fact that Candyman’s origin and purpose is confusing unless 1992’s “Candyman” is viewed beforehand.
Even with its issues, “Candyman” marks a phenomenal start to the horror movie season. Even with “Malignant,” “Halloween Kills,” and “Last Night in Soho” coming soon, “Candyman” has the potential to be the best horror movie to come out this year. Its avoidance of horror movie tropes and inspiration from the ’80s and ‘90s horror creates a film that should not be missed by anyone that does not mind getting a little bit scared.