“The legend is, if you say his name five times while looking in the mirror, he appears in the reflection and he kills you.” So warns Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in the trailer of Candyman, a remake of the 1992 horror classic of the same name. The movie, which should have already scared the crap out of viewers, is looking at a 2021 release date now, and it is still hoping to scare the crap out of fans when they actually get to see it. Other than the movie hoping to be scary, what else do we know about it?
THE STARS OF CANDYMAN
As previously mentioned, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II will be leading the cast in the updated horror flick. He stars as Anthony McCoy, an artist who returns to the Cabrini Green Housing Projects in order to exercise his demons of the past. Abdul-Mateen is a well-known actor who has starred in features such as Baywatch, The Greatest Showman, Aquaman, Us, The Trial of the Chicago 7, and the miniseries Watchmen.
Joining him are Teyonah Parris as his girlfriend Brianna Cartwright, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Colman Domingo, and reprising her role from the original Candyman is Vanessa Estelle Williams, who played Anthony’s mother and who was also responsible for sending Helen Lyle (originally played by Virginia Madsen) on her way to investigate the urban legend of Candyman.
In what possibly will make fans squirm and squeal in horrific delight, Tony Todd will be back carrying the hook and he didn’t hide his excitement to Horror Geek Life while trying hard not to give away too much. “First-of-all, we have a feminine perspective now. A young, black filmmaker [Nia DaCosta] who’s on the rise. She just got plucked to do Captain Marvel 2 based on what she did with this film. It has many, many layers. Jordan Peele wrote and produced it. I was in South Africa working on something when he reached out to me and explained this massive concept. I don’t want to give anything away, because that’s spoiling, but I think people are going to be knocked the fuck out. I got deals and side deals from toy companies, and t-shirt companies; I don’t think that would happen if you only saw me for a second, right?”
DACOSTA AND PEELE
Sounds like a great pair to bringing their updated version of Candyman to the big screen. Jordan Peele has already shown success and flair for horror as a director with Us and most recently Get Out. He has also been in front of the camera introducing stories in the TV series remake of The Twilight Zone.
Nia DaCosta, on the other hand, does not have a huge resume to hang her hat on, but what she does have is Little Woods, a movie she wrote and directed. Her wonderful ability to both write and direct the film caught the eye of Peele, who brought her in not only to direct Candyman but also to help Peele co-write the script. Win Rosenfeld, who produced BlacKkKlansman and The Twilight Zone, is also lending a hand with the script.
THE PLOT OF CANDYMAN
As an infant living in the projects (in the original Candyman), Anthony McCoy was kidnapped and almost killed by Candyman but was saved by Helen Lyle (who was played by Virginia Madsen in the original). The projects have since been torn down and replaced with some luxurious condos which McCoy and his girlfriend Brianna now live in. McCoy’s painting career is in neutral but a chance meeting with a Cabrini Green old-timer sets him back on his path. But it is a path fraught with terror as McCoy unknowingly opens the door for the return of one of movie history’s greatest monsters.
According to DaCosta, her Candyman will come at viewers much differently than the original. “In the original, he’s already a fully formed…I guess monster, we’ll say, because that’s definitely how he’s positioned in the original film, as a monster. And so, it’s really like a reveal of like, ‘Here’s my chest. I’m fully formed, I’m fully grotesque’ and in this one, we really wanted it to be a slow progression…” she explained via Slashfilm during the Virtual Fireside Chat at Nightstream.
Her goal, as she further explained, was about “getting into the head of the audience.” She likens it to a bump, a rash, or a mosquito bite that doesn’t go away. “In this movie, of course, it doesn’t go away, it gets worse, and so I wanted to have that effect. If someone goes home after watching this movie and looks at their own rash, or bump, or mosquito bite and is a little more freaked out, then I’ve done my job. And that’s really what I wanted to do, it’s about getting inside the head of the audience and really viscerally disturbing them and tracking it psychologically with the sense of the main character.” The goal is set, let’s see if she can pull it off.
Back in June of this year, DaCosta revealed a concept trailer for the movie that was delivered by shadow puppets. The trailer pretty much showed the origin of Candyman and when she posted the trailer on her Twitter (her account is no longer active on Twitter), she included this message, “Candyman, at the intersection of white violence and black pain, is about unwilling martyrs. The people they were, the symbols we turn them into, the monsters we are told they must have been.”
No reason has been given for DaCosta’s account being removed. During the Urbanworld Film Festival, DaCosta did share more, via CinemaBlend, about her particular vision of Candyman, “When we decided this movie is about Candyman–who is Candyman? What does it mean? This movie was always going to be about the trauma/violence and how it affects our community and how we collectively grieve, and how we construct stories around these events.”
The stinging bite of COVID continues to run rampant across the Hollywood landscape. Candyman is but one of its many victims, finding delay after delay, new release date one after the other. The first release date for Candyman was June 12, 2020. Then it was pushed back to September 25, 2020. It found a third date of October 16, 2020, and as luck would have it, that date wouldn’t pan out either. So, now the new date is set for August 27, 2021, over a year since its original scheduled release. So, why doesn’t Universal jump on the growing trend of sending it to a streaming service to get it to fans earlier?
DaCosta explained via CinemaBlend through her still inactive Twitter, “We made Candyman to be seen in theaters. Not just for the spectacle but because the film is about community and stories–how they shape each other, how they shape us. It’s about the collective experience of trauma and joy, suffering and triumph, and the stories we tell around it.” She pushed on about community and sharing the experience. “We wanted the horror and humanity of Candyman to be experienced in a collective, a community, so we’re pushing Candyman to next year, to ensure that everyone can see the film, in theaters, and share in that experience.”
Candyman looks to be in good hands. As long as movie theaters are still in play come next August, this will be a late-summer treat for fans of the horror genre. If you want to get in the mood, albeit a year early, check out the creepy Candyman trailer below.