Nia DaCosta’s Candyman is both a terrifying movie, and a somewhat messy one

Candyman one sheet - Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Candyman one sheet - Courtesy of Universal Pictures /

It’s been almost 30 years since one of the most well known horror characters was created in the original Candyman, released in 1992. The movie Candyman is still a horror classic, and one of the best examples of how to use horror to tell a deeper message. There have been two sequels already that tried to expand on the original Candyman, but couldn’t quite match the original.

This brings us to Candyman (2021), which finds itself in a really weird space of being a direct sequel as well as a reboot (similar to 2018s Halloween).

In the reboot/sequel we are introduced to Anthony McCoy who is an artist living in Chicago with his girlfriend. McCoy attempts to learn about a subdivision named ‘Cabrini-Green’, and upon researching the area he discovers it’s dark history.

One of the most clear things from this film is that Nia DaCosta understands horror. She understands how to build tension and provide a frightening scare using the tension built. This film, from a directing standpoint is expertly crafted in a way that very few films are these days. Filled with subtle horrors to give you an eerie feeling, only to create this vulnerable space to effectively scare.

DaCosta was able to pull every horror trick out of the bag in such a stylistic and meaningful way to where it absolutely works. Many scenes were done in such a way that brought me fear in more than just the moment, but the grand scheme of the film as a whole.

Why Candyman is one of the most frightening films of the year

The body horror, the shocks, and the tension all culminate to make Candyman one of the most frightening films of the year. Not to mention, the silhouette pieces to tell parts of the flashback were so brilliant.

I do think, however, that when the third act rolls around, the film becomes too messy for its own good. The script for this movie left much to be desired, as I think there were just too many writers in the room. Too many clashing styles and ideas is what likely led to the film being so abrupt upon the ending. This film is one of the rare cases where I felt like it could have benefitted from a longer runtime. More time would have allowed for a better explanation of the situations happening, without it being sort of thrown together last second.

Once we begin to really understand what is going on with Anthony, the movie only has about 30 minutes left. There is no time given to really reflect on these discoveries, and try to reconcile with them. Everything during the third act just sort of happens, and while it remains frightening to watch, it just feels rushed.

There is a massive build up, that people who watched the original film would be able to understand early on, that finally reaches its moment far too late into the film. While the end of this film is still effective in portraying the message it was going for, there could have been much more expansion into the characters to give it the extra boost it needed.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Colman Domingo are standouts in Candyman

The performances in this movie do stand out, and especially from Emmy winner Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Colman Domingo. Domingo, who is easily one of the best character actors working in Hollywood, is the films main storyteller for the first bit of this film, but then a character switch near the end brings out a truly haunting performance from the actor.

Abdul-Mateen II also truly proves his power as one of Hollywood’s best. Whether it’s a superhero project, an awards film, or now horror, he has been able to fully give himself to every role he has taken. In Candyman he makes the character of Anthony McCoy an entirely believable one. As we watch his world fall apart in front of his eyes, and we see his true self come forward, Abdul-Mateen II is perfect at being a scared person with a dark side. I definitely think there were moments where his committed performance really helped carry the film.

While the horrors do stand out, the films messy third act holds it back from being a true classic like the original. Nevertheless, Candyman still has enough quality style from the direction, as well as a committed performance from Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, to make this film an enjoyable yet terrifying one to watch.

Candyman (2021). B. Nia DaCosta stylistic horror direction stands out as <em>Candyman </em>is both a terrifying movie and a somewhat messy one.. .

Check out these reviews of Candyman as well

Just like the original Candyman there is a lot that has to deal with the black experience that I truly won’t be able to articulate correctly, and don’t feel like it is my place to even try. Instead, I definitely recommend checking out some of these reviews that could explain and touch on these messages better than I ever could.

If you want even more, check out this amazing tweet that includes even more POC reviews for this film!

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