Candyman ★★★★½

Quick thoughts:

Candyman (2021) is a supernatural slasher film, and a direct sequel to the 1992 film of the same name, based on the short story "The Forbidden" by Clive Barker. This "legacy-quel" is directed by Nia DaCosta, from a screenplay co-written by DaCosta, Jordan Peele (also producer) and Win Rosenfeld. Anthony and his partner move into a loft in the now gentrified Cabrini. After a chance encounter with an old-timer exposes Anthony to the true story behind Candyman, he unknowingly opens a door to a complex past that unravels his own sanity and unleashes a terrifying wave of violence. Full disclosure, I went into this movie blind, having not seen either the original Candyman or DaCosta's directorial debut Little Woods. The benefit of that is being able to judge this movie solely on its own merits, while the downside may be whatever important context I'm missing. With that being said, I really loved the themes being explored in this film. Contrary to popular (and in bad faith) belief, horror has always been political, and the best films in the genres are the ones that really get under people's skin. This movie is no exception, and while sometimes the dialogue can get a little clunky in its execution, the fact that DaCosta is discussing the negative effects of gentrification this openly is a feature, not a bug. The performances are all terrific, but I specifically want to give credit to Yahya Abdul-Mateen II for crushing his first leading role as Anthony McCoy, and artist who becomes obsessed with the legend of the Candyman. Even though this is supposed to be a direct sequel, I don't actually think it matters whether or not you've seen the original. I was already hooked by the film's exploration of communal folklore, and how easily the narrative can be distorted from a white perspective to villainize black victims. Other than some clunky expositional dialogue and Peele's trademark sense of humor that doesn't always click, I just would have liked to see Tony Todd have a little bit more of a presence, but in the context of the film he did exactly what was needed. I'll revisit this movie another time after I watch the original, but for now, I very much enjoyed this new iteration of Candyman!