I revisited the original Candyman a while back, and although I still liked it I did find some the acting a bit poor. Yet it’s concept was certainly ripe for a new instalment and this re-imagining-come-sequel, which dismisses the other sequels, follows a struggling artist who stumbles upon the urban legend. Deciding to base his new exhibition on the myth, the artist unwittingly summons the ghetto ghoul in the process.
Produced and co-written by Jordan Peele (Get Out), this new instalment stays faithful to the events of the first movie whilst adding plenty ideas of its own. I especially liked how it explores the idea that Candyman is not just one person but several who had all died in horrible ways, the latest being a victim of Police brutality. Yes, clearly there’s a Black Lives Matter message here as well as an exploration of racism from both sides. Direction is very atmospheric and at times quite creepy but not all that chilling, yet this is offset by several well-executed kills (including a particularly shocking school bathroom scene).
The fact that only white people get killed in this however, feels problematic, and despite exploring similar themes to the first movie, it does seem to have an axe to grind. It also never really goes for it in the gore department. However such things don’t ruin what is generally an effective and imaginative follow up that has enough personality and stand out sequences to be worthy of your time.
Director Jordan Peele has made quite a name for himself after the Oscar winning racial-tension thriller Get Out. He’s certainly a bold new voice in a largely stale genre filled with sequels and remakes. In this, his second effort, a woman along with her husband and kids head to a beach community for a holiday, where when she was a child a bizarre incident happened that has haunted her all her life. However after meeting up with some friends, as night draws in a weird group of strangers turn up outside the house who look exactly like them.
Initially I thought this was very much like a copy of The Strangers mixed with Funny Games., but as it progressed it became so much more. Firstly, Peele’s direction is slick, visually interesting and coats the movie in a thick unnerving atmosphere. Moments of humour only slightly eleveate the tension but work well to create a surprisingly relatable tone with characters I quickly grew to care about. One joke involving an Alexa-like device was just brilliant. Performances, especially considering the cast are mostly playing two parts are decent with a special mention going to Lupita Nyong’o who delivers a very layered duel-performance that’s at times quite chilling..
The overall concept is clever on paper, but as the movie drew to a close I felt it got a bit confused, causing an avalanche of questions in my head that begged me to re-evaluate what I had been watching. That can be great but in reflection, I’m not sure if it entirely works. However for such a visually captivating, well acted and often thrilling experience this remains one of the most purely entertaining horrors I’ve seen in a while.
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