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Let’s Talk About Jordan Peele’s Candyman

Candyman 2021

Say his name


The long awaited Candyman has hit streaming sites and theaters and I for one, could NOT WAIT to watch it.  As a Peele fan, I couldn’t wait to see his take on the infamous Urban Legend classic!  Written by Peele and directed by Nia DaCosta (Little Woods 2019 and she’s been slated to direct the upcoming Marvels)

Please note: Contains spoilers

This is the fourth film in the Candyman franchise and is based on the short story, The Forbidden, by Clive Barker. 

It’s 27 years after the events from the first installment.  Artist Anthony lives with his girlfriend, an art gallery director, and her brother in Chicago.  Looking for inspiration he ends up at the now abandoned Cabrini-Green.  Meeting a local laundromat owner, Billy Burke, he learns of the legend surrounding a hooked man (Sherman Fields) that police believed was responsible for placing razor blades into candy.  The candy makes its way to a little white girl causing an uproar in the community.  Burke relates his own horrifying encounter with Fields.  When he was a child, after witnessing a grisly event at his own home, he accidentally alerted police to Fields’ hiding place in the tower blocks, leading to ‘the killer’s’ demise upon being beaten to death.  The legend- as we know- is if you say Candyman five times into the mirror, it will summon the spirit of Fields who will then go on to brutally kill the summoner.

A scared young Billy Burke

Anthony’s inspired piece consists of a mirror on the wall.  When you open the mirror it shows what the old dilapidated Cabrini-Green looks like now.  He challenges gallery patrons to try to summon the Candyman.  No one dares.  Until that night when one of Brianna’s friends and his girlfriend get dreadfully slaughtered after saying his name in the mirror after gallery hours.  The murder, although ghastly and affecting his girlfriend personally, boosts Anthony’s career much to his delight.  As the news spreads, more and more people try the ritual, including an art critic and a group of teenage girls resulting in one very bloody bathroom scene.

A summoning in the girls’ bathroom goes horribly right

Anthony starts undergoing unnerving physical changes in his body beginning in his hand from a bee sting making its way up his face.  It’s at this point, we as the viewer, understand there’s a co-relation to the artist and the legend.  Is he turning into the Candyman?  What’s Anthony’s connection to this urban legend? (Watch and find out!)

Anthony transforming

I did notice an ongoing theme of oppression throughout the film.  Anthony feels oppressed by the white critics, Brianna feels oppressed by her relationship with a brilliant artist. We learn that the generations of men possessed by the spirit of the Candyman, going all the way back to Daniel Robitaille, (Enter Tony Todd) were all victims of social injustice.

“They like what we make, they just don’t like us.”

I found the juxtaposition between the newly gentrified neighborhood and the original slum notable as lower income neighborhoods are being replaced by over-priced freshly painted dwellings for the wealthy.  More subtle socially relevant commentary.  Even though the cast consists of successful strong black educated characters, the class and social struggle is still very noticeably discernible. At one point, one of Anthony’s friends says, “They like what we make, they just don’t like us.”

Without giving too much away, Anthony eventually accepts his fate as the next chosen one to become the next incarnation of the Candyman.  Keeping the legend alive almost lends hope to the black community dealing with generations of; and ongoing- injustices, maltreatment, persecution and oppression.  This also lends itself to a possible sequel. 🤞

Keeping the legend alive

I really enjoyed this movie.  It was a fun and exciting watch from beginning to end.  It was the right combination of nostalgia, (just enough to remind viewers of the original story seeing how it’s been 29 years since the story began) and current relevance.  The kills were gory but not over the top or lingering to the point of torture.  The acting was great and the writing superb, as always. Peele and DaCosta took a fan favorite/cult classic, and wove it into a tight, scary, pertinent fresh tale. 

It was scary, but I could have used a little more fright.  So I’m giving Candyman 4.5 🔪🔪🔪🔪 knives/Five.

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Candyman movie poster

Anthony transforming

A Scared young Billy Burke

Keeping the legend alive