Candyman: Yay or Nay?
People are stories. We’re made up from the things we say about ourselves. But more so, we are made up of what others say about us. Those stories tend to get used, sometimes even abused.
In order for the personal to become the communal - for the story smashed into pieces and circulates around everyone who hears it, till it no longer comes back to you at all. No one, and I mean no one, is above being sacrificed for the purpose of a good story.
It’s seen every day in various degrees, from social media to news media. We’re seen and still see people getting captured by a snapshot whether it’s an image, meme or headline and we just assume we know the story and therefore unwrap the person.
That is alarming but when it’s being considered through the lens of Blackness, it’s then horrifying. This is where it all begins.
In the film Candyman from 1992, it’s based off of a skeptical graduate student, Helen Lyle, who befriends Anne-Marie McCoy while trying to research superstition in a housing project on Chicago’s Near North Side. Helen learns from Anne-Marie about Candyman, a knife- wielding man figure from an urban legend that some of her neighbors believe to be was responsible for a recent murder. After a mysterious man that matched Candyman’s description started to stalk her, Helen begins to fear that the urban legend may be all too real.
In the Candyman film made this year, the movie was about how for decades, the housing projects of Chicago’s Cabrini- Green was terrorized by a “ghost story” about a supernatural, hook- handed killer. In the present day, an artist, Anthony McCoy, begins to explore the history of Candyman, not knowing it would unravel his sanity and let out a terrifying wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with destiny.
In the hands of lesser storytellers, a Candyman reboot could simply rehash the plot of the original, just with a different grad student making their own thesis on the urban legend of Candyman. The entire production team took the Candyman legend to another level.
In the 1992 film, Helen risked becoming a victim of Candyman; while in the 2021 film, Anthony risked becoming Candyman himself. The 2021 movie has the same concept but obviously tells a story of its own. The original 1992 Candyman movie is based on Clive Barker's work, a playwright, novelist, film director and visual artist. It was noted as one of the most racially wide alert horror movies that was ever made.
The movie's Black villain is revealed as the son of a slave who was murdered by a lynch mob, a band of people who want to hurt someone, while the projects offer a visual metaphor for the marginalization of Black communities.
Just as fans expected when the director, Jordan Peele, signed on to write and produce the new Candyman movie that leans heavily into the social commentary. The new movie has vicious police brutality against innocent Black people to reflect on the events of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as putting the light on impacting gentrification.
Most people just think the new Candyman movie is a reboot, as it focuses on the new character’s connection to Candyman. However, there is a plot twist that reveals Anthony is the grown- up version of the baby boy from the original movie.
In the original, Helen was framed for the baby’s abduction after Candyman took her, and she then sacrificed herself to save baby Anthony. After revealing that, Anthony was doomed to become the new Candyman, even though Helen saved him in the first film. Both films directed the sequel to its predecessor and added a tragic bent to the first movie’s happy ending.
In conclusion, these two films are far and away stunning, gory, and worth the watch. Each movie stands on its own but still continues the legacy from the original in a unique and useful way, Candyman is sweet yet a fun addition to the horror genre that’s still meaningful in violence.