Any movie involving mirrors should employ a visionary director who knows where to place a camera, and Nia DeCosta sets the appropriate tone for this’ 90s reboot, with mood lighting, unique imagery, and claustrophobic perspective shots. While the film’s spooky soundtrack seems undeserved during the first half, Robert AA Lowe composes a cleverly spooky score, synchronized with the film’s spooky final images to a T. The actors also bring their A-Game, bringing horror. , care and charisma to characters written with lightness. Jordan Peele co-produced and co-wrote “Candyman,” and the screenplay certainly falls short of its previous work, injecting social commentary into a shaky plotline at odds with the desired themes.
I have to admit that I am a new viewer in this franchise, but I know of a messy plot when I see one. “Candyman” brings the decades-long amputee slasher to a new audience, with top-notch flair and talent, but the stunted story length makes it seem like the characters light up at the convenience of the plot. That might be normal for the course of the “Candyman” franchise, but I found it shocking, especially when barely time was paid to set the stage for some character transitions.
I would be charitable and careful if the title was “Candyman II”, where we were supposed to already know how certain characters relate to the mythology of the film. However, the movie title has no subtitles or numbers after it. So, I feel empowered to watch this movie on my own. If the movie had another half hour devoted to prefacing some of the sudden plot changes and introducing characters, I could have been on board. As it stands, the pace is far. As an example of the mess, one character has a flashback of his father taking his own life, and the movie never talks about it again.
Although some elements are disjointed, the most developed plot is fortunately that of the main character. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II brings a compelling portrayal of the curious protagonist named Anthony, who becomes obsessed with the legend of Cabrini Green and engages his artistic talents to render the murders in canvas form. His investigation of the titular villain seems unfounded, but, unlike other plot details, the seemingly artificial curiosity pays off in intriguing ways, during the second half of the film.
Anthony’s descent into mythology is engaging and terrifying, but what his character is meant to represent remains unresolved. An art critic inside the film, in reaction to Anthony’s inspired art, remarks that his work starts from a point of privilege: analyzing oppression under the microscope and enjoying art as long as it is. problem still exists. This claim addressed by art critic, interpreted by Rebecca Spence, seems to backfire on a film that artistically portrays police brutality and gentrification when these issues still exist. Then the film never touches on this review again. Of course, if they had taken another half an hour to flesh out some of these thematic dead ends, the movie would have been much better. Sadly, they never offer a rebuttal at this point, and that leaves a bad taste, especially in a film that seems to be proud of the social commentary it adopts.
I’m a huge fan of movies that can mix political messages into their plots, because stories are the best way to get people to accept premises that they would otherwise find at odds with their ideologies. One of my favorites, Jordan Peele’s “We” takes class warfare and puts an allegorical twist that might make even the most ardent capitalist somewhat sympathetic to the “attaches”. However, “Candyman” expects his viewers to be on the same page already. We are very far from the description “especially good people with a few bad apples”. The cops are as bad as the gangsters in this movie, beating people to death in groups and forcing witnesses to say things that are easily disproved by a crime scene investigator. Either you believe the premise or you don’t, and writers don’t really care about inviting strangers to be sympathetic to the issues they’re exploring.
“Candyman” is well done with an excellent cast and a director whose future films I look forward to, because the atmospheric and technical elements are there. However, the script needed another thirty pages to flesh out some of the artistic dead ends and hypocrisies. While fans of the original horror might find pleasure in the way Candyman is redefined, the only scene I see myself watching again is the villain’s first killings, which still give me chills. The film as a whole is rambling, cropped and contradictory. I give this one a 2½ out of 5.