The film writers suggest that the success of Jordan Peele’s 2017 film, “Get Out,” marked a sort of resurgence of the noir horror genre – horror being political in nature. Certainly, the increased attention to police brutality, especially when it comes to the black male population, is forcing an increase in viable scripts.
This year’s “Candyman”, which is now on the big screen locally, would help, it seems, to reinforce that thought. The opening season hit TV series “Lovecraft Country” and the 2020 film “Antebellum” are also cited, but while “Get Out” screened here, the latter did not.
The original “Candyman” appeared in 1992 and saw two sequels. The urban legend is that of a 19th century artist and son of a slave, who traveled across the country painting portraits of predominantly white clients, until he fell in love with the daughter of a from them and brutally murdered by the townspeople. He is called the Candyman, who has a hook for the right hand and distributes candy to little children. Legend has it that he will appear if you stand in front of a mirror and repeat his name five times.
This 2021 direct sequel to the first film, by young black director Nia DaCosta, continues the story of the original, including keeping much of the film in the late Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago. Artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen) lives with his girlfriend in a chic apartment away from the old quarter of Cabrini-Green. But Anthony, who has had an artist block, is due to produce for his girlfriend Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris), art gallery manager, and his gallery owner, who urged him to come up with new work for an opening of gallery.
Anthony goes to Cabrini-Green to take pictures and see if anything resonates. The legend of Candyman does, and Anthony’s work inspires fear and trepidation as the gallery opens, and our first breath of blood. (Did I say “don’t take your kid in this movie?”) Brianna arrives at the gallery the next morning and is greeted by two bodies lying in an incredible pool of blood. The gallery owner and his girlfriend were apparently clowning in front of a mirror.
Anthony had been stung by a bee on his first visit to Cabrini-Green, and the camera keeps coming back to that irritation in his right hand. He seems to be spreading, and the bandage on his hand seems big enough to hide a – well, you see the picture.
The director, Da Costa, is the first black woman to have a film at No. 1 at the domestic box office – such is the press for “Candyman”. After graduating from college and working as a TV production assistant, DaCosta wrote the screenplay for “Little Woods” in 2015, which was one of 12 projects chosen for the 2015 Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Labs.
It will eventually become his first feature film, starring Lily James and Tessa Thompson. The film won the Nora Ephron Award for Storytelling at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. The director said none of her previous work has paid off student loans yet. I’m sure “Candyman” will.