“Candyman” follows Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), an artist in Chicago looking for inspiration for his next project. He finds it in the story of the candyman, a hook-handed killer ghost, rumored to be summoned when you say his name five times in front of a mirror. Anthony starts getting drawn deeper and deeper into the urban legend that haunts the neighborhood Cabrini-Green, and he discovers he might even have a personal connection to the Candyman.
This movie is the fourth installment in the “Candyman” series, but you don’t need to have seen the earlier movies to understand or appreciate this one (in fact, I didn’t even know about the previous movies until after I saw this one). The entire franchise is based on a short story by Clive Barker called “The Forbidden”.
“Candyman” is a brilliant horror movie. It goes beyond just relying on jump scares for thrills and actually addresses very relevant social issues of today. The movie uses its platform to talk about gentrification, racism, and police brutality. That’s why it is such a potent and compelling horror film. It is thought provoking, and effectively weaves social critiques into an entertaining and hair-raising thriller.
As Anthony delves deeper into his research, he discovers all of the Candymen were black men who died as victims of racism and/or police brutality. The Candyman thus becomes a symbol of black pain and suffering, as well as an instrument of vengeance. Just as Cabrini-Green is haunted by the Candyman, the city, and the entire country, is haunted by the evil of racism.
One particularly chilling moment for me was when the police, lured by Burke (Colman Domingo), brutally gun down Anthony. Worst of all, the corrupt cops try to pressure Brianna (Teyonah Parris), Anthony’s girlfriend, who witnessed the whole thing, into saying Anthony had provoked the police into killing him. They arrest her and tell her she can either lie and follow their version of the story, or they will make her look guilty and lock her up. She uses the mirror to summon the Candyman, who then kills the corrupt racist police officers and helps Brianna escape.
The terrifying reality of police brutality is demonstrated clearly in the way the police violently shoot at Anthony, without asking any questions. Even more disturbing than that, is their lack of any remorse for the innocent black man they just murdered. They treat the human life they just took with the indifference of someone who stepped on an ant or slapped at a mosquito. Moreover, their brazen confidence makes it clear they have no fear of repercussions for their behavior. They know the system is working in their favor and they are unlikely to be punished. Additionally, their heinous treatment of Brianna shows the lack of actual justice in the justice system, and how biased it is against black individuals.
The movie is entertaining, well written and relevant. The acting is amazing, and Yahya Abdul Mateen II delivers a riveting performance as Anthony. Jordan Peele produced and co-wrote “Candyman”, and as can be expected from any project Peele is involved in, the movie is definitely worth watching. Following in the footsteps of Peele’s other films, Candyman’s underlying social commentary shines through.
You can catch “Candyman” in theaters or on Amazon prime.
By Alice Braga