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Story of Candyman

Release Date: 3th September

Nia DaCosta's Candyman (2021) surprised critics and audiences. Based on the Bernard Rose horror film of the same name released in '92, it is a reinvention of the iconic monster. But also, a clever look at how to create successful sequels and respect the source material.
Year    :   2021
By    :   United Atates of America
Slogan    :   «Some assembly required»
Genre    :   Adventure, Fantasy, Thriller, Action
Time    :   1h 30min. / 1:22
Budget    :   $120 000 000
Age    :   13+

Rating:   IMDb  / 8.5

Candyman Full Movie Plot Universal Pictures

Released in the fall of 1992, Bernard Rose’s film “Candyman” marked a before and after in the history of the horror genre. For the first time, an American horror movie featured a black man as the title character and main antagonist. It became a totally different cinematic “monster” from what had existed hitherto in Western popular culture. Jordan Peele was 13 at the time. “As a child, I loved horror movies, but I didn’t have a black Freddy Krueger, or a black Jason Voorhees,” he says. “So when ‘Candyman’ was released, it was very groundbreaking and cathartic. And it was terrifying. Although there were already some examples of black people in horror movies, I found this particular character especially fascinating. ”

Based on Clive Barker’s short story The Forbidden, the 1992 film follows the adventures of a white college student, Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), who is researching her thesis on urban legends. She is especially interested in a myth that has endured in Chicago’s infamous social housing, the Cabrini-Green Towers.

In that area, people are convinced that if you say Candyman’s name five times in front of a mirror, he will appear armed with a hook for a hand and will finish you off. As he conducts his investigation, gruesome deaths follow in his wake, and he discovers the story that gave rise to the legend: that a 19th century black artist, Daniel Robitaille (Tony Todd), fell in love with a young white woman he was in love with. painting. For this crime, he was lynched by an angry mob of whites. They cut off his hand, smeared it with honey and dropped a swarm of bees on it before burning it alive. His ashes were scattered on what was later the site where the Cabrini-Green social housing was built. Since then, the specter of him has terrorized residents.

There are film projects that are conceived in a confusing way, perhaps deliberately. That The Suicide Squad (James Gunn, 2021) is so titled being a hilarious sequel to the almost eponymous film (David Ayer, 2016) that received devastating, perhaps exaggerated criticism, and the viewers did not like it much, is due to the desire to rethink its history for such poor reception without the DC Extended Universe denying the previous work. But the case of Candyman (Nia DaCosta, 2021) is different.

It is also a direct continuation of the film with the same name (Bernard Rose, 1992), perhaps ignoring the facts of those that follow it, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (Bill Condon, 1995) and Candyman: Day of the Dead (Turi Meyer, 1999). And, although such a reality has not been hidden, the game of the producer and screenwriter Jordan Peele (We) and company has been that of ambiguity so that it is thought that we are talking about a remake.

By the time the film was becoming a cult hit, Jordan Peele and his good friend (and now producing partner) Ian Cooper were growing up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Over the years, they would revisit history over and over again.

“By the time he was in the second year of high school, Jordan had already amassed a sizable collection of videotapes (arranged alphabetically and organized by gender) that consumed the entire shelf space in his bedroom,” says Ian Cooper. “We saved up to buy as many movies together as we could afford. Personally, I have seen almost all the films influencing my training, often for the first time, sitting on Jordan’s bed ».

‘Candyman’ was one of the most watched. “We were excited about that movie,” Cooper says. “With his portrayal of Candyman, Tony Todd made us enjoy an imposing, fascinating, complex, romantic, dynamic and terrifying villain, all wonderfully embodied by an actor of color. We recited entire sentences from memory, obsessed with minor characters, and generally scrutinized every detail. That kind of detailed, textual analysis became the foundation of our friendship, and to this day it continues to be that common ground that we play on and create on every day we work together.

But for all its admirable qualities, the 1992 film was also problematic, even in its time. Among its flaws was the unanswered question of why a black man who had died so violently at the hands of whites was now dedicated to terrorizing a black community, and why a white woman was at the center of this story. The original film explored the legend of Candyman through Helen’s perspective,” says Peele. But to me that film seemed black. A movie for me. So I wanted to make a film that would approach that ghostly story from a black perspective.

  • Director: Nia DaCosta
  • Writers: Jordan Peele, Win Rosenfeld, Nia DaCosta
  • Production companies: Universal Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), BRON Studios
  • Country: Germany, United States of America, United Kingdom Production


Fortunately, the reasons for the Candyman crew preferring audiences to sit in the screening rooms believing that, with Candyman, Nia DaCosta (Crossing the Line) is restarting the narrative about the hook killer ghost are entirely artistic. You go to the show hoping that “the new version” will outperform the original. Not a few moviegoers like it a lot, although others consider that it exceeds in the escabechina and in other aspects.

But suddenly, we hear the notes of the iconic score that the great Philip Glass (Koyaanisqatsi) composed for the first feature film in a sequence of Chinese shadows; and we narrow our eyes from the pissed off. Later, they refer to the tragedy of Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), that is to say, to what the inaugural work of Bernard Rose relates, as an unforeseen antecedent, and they even show us a photograph of her and we hear her voice; and what we do is open our mouths in surprise.

The interest of this character, a woman graduated from the University of Chicago, was nothing less than research on urban legends. So she doesn’t resist and makes the decision to stick her curious nose into Candyman’s after meeting her, and write her thesis about it; just like Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) in Nia DaCosta’s Nightmare for her own pictorial project. With the same horrible consequences.

The new movie Candyman, a sequel to the 1992 horror classic that was released last week, features Fiona Apple’s song “Shameika” from last year’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters. The song plays in the background on a record player during a scene set in an art critic’s apartment. Last year, Apple pledged to donate all proceeds from “Shameika” movie and television locations to the Harlem Children’s Zone. She takes a look at the Candyman trailer and revisits “Shameika” below.

Apple won Best Rock Performance at the 2021 Grammy Awards for “Shameika,” and Fetch the Bolt Cutters won Best Alternative Music Album. After its release last spring, the former Apple third-grade teacher reconnected her with the real-life Shameika Stepney who had inspired the song. Stepney and Apple later collaborated on a new song, “Shameika Says.”

The first manifestations of racism in the United States date back to British colonial times. From the second half of the seventeenth century, the demand for the slave labor necessary to maintain the economy of the southern states was boosted. Male and female slaves became 40% of the southern population. Fearing an uprising or insurrection of such a large proportion of people who lived without freedom or rights, but who were at the same time necessary to maintain the economy of the southern states, the landed elites tightened control and coercive measures against the male and female slaves. Thus, the slavery codes were created, which were laws that regulated their treatment, and which even allowed punishments and brutal measures on these people and their families.

They are the foundations on which the future nation of North America begins to be built.

It was not until the end of the Civil War that the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was approved in 1865, officially abolishing slavery.

Once equality is achieved by law, the southern states begin to create specific laws to curtail the freedoms of African-Americans, imposing curfews on them, the prohibition of having weapons, or segregation in the public sphere. The desire of the victorious northern states to reconcile with the losing south caused them to relax in the face of the new racist laws that were being established in the south.

This led to the formation of paramilitary groups such as the Ku Klux Klan or the Knights of the White Camellia, which, through direct violence and continuous intimidation, harassed those of African-American origin. The white supremacist ideal emerged, which justifies violence and racism by virtue of the superiority of white men over black men, which is gradually being introduced into southern institutions, justifying the laws that segregate and limit the rights of African Americans. and African American. Naturally white women, for the most part, were on the sidelines, silenced.

The expectations of analysts claimed that ‘Candyman’ would raise 15 million in its opening weekend: instead, it has reached 22.37 million according to Variety. That despite being an R-rated film and against the widespread fear of the Delta variant that is emptying theaters. It is not the only film that is performing above expectations: ‘Free Guy’, which had a very good premiere last week, this has only dropped 27% in its collection.

According to IndieWire, it is the first time that a film directed by a black woman has been at the top of the US box office. The honor goes to Nia DaCosta, who is already immersed in ‘The Marvels’, the sequel to ‘Captain Marvel’ that will bring Brie Larson together with two new superheroines from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

But ‘Candyman’ probably owes much of its success to its writer and producer, Jordan Peele, the filmmaker behind the ‘Let me out’ and ‘We’ phenomena. He and DaCosta lead a team made up of mostly black people, something that has helped the film’s audience to be very diverse at its premiere, with 27% of the audience made up of black people, 30% viewers. White, 22% Latino, and 5% Asian.

It will also have helped that the film received favorable reviews and general good opinions from the public. But ‘Candyman’ is one more case that shows that horror movies can lead Americans to the movies in the middle of a pandemic. At this point ‘A Quiet Place 2’ is the third highest grossing film of the year there at $ 160 million, and ‘The Warren File: Forced by the Demon’ is the ninth with $ 65 million. In addition, they are not usually very expensive films, which makes them easily profitable: ‘Candyman’ has cost 25 million, an investment that has already been recovered in its first weekend. That can’t be said for blockbusters like ‘Black Widow’ or ‘Fast & Furious 9’.

Another detail to keep in mind is that titles that are released exclusively in theaters are doing better at the box office right now. ‘Free Guy’ and ‘Candyman’ have had better results than expected compared to films that can also be seen on streaming platforms, such as ‘The Suicide Squad’ and ‘Reminiscence’ (which has hit a slap). Right now the industry is waiting to see how ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’, the first Marvel film to be released exclusively in theaters after the pandemic, will do from Friday.

If the franchise had become a slasher without much to offer, the new version is a complex box of mysteries. One in which the director also knew how to build a complex journey through collective memory.

The film is the demonstration that the horror genre has a lot to say with respect to the cinematographic language and even as a work of authorship. But especially, it’s a surprising mix of all sorts of successful elements that turned the base story into something new.

Bernard Rose’s Candyman, based on a story by Clive Barker, is a close look at time and cultural fear. The DaCosta sequel uses the same elements, but also elaborates a discourse based on the inheritance of evil as a total premise.

Regardless of the rest of the sequels, Candyman became a legend, a myth and a sequence of horrors. And the movie is perhaps one of the best structured horror titles in recent years.

The silent terror in ‘Candyman’

DaCosta knows that he is addressing an audience that is not easy to startle. So he turns to one of the oldest resources in cinema: space and context. The sequences progress in the middle of small claustrophobic places that use light as immediate focal points. Little hints of evil in the dark.

The fear and secrets in ‘Candyman’

In Candyman, the horror doesn’t show up right away. With impeccable light management, DaCosta directs the public’s gaze towards unusual places. Empty walls, interactive works of art, mirrors and shadow games … But above all, she builds an aggressive and powerful space that ends up disorienting the viewer.

DaCosta is aware that fear is a reaction to the abnormal, so she shows horror as an invisible and disturbing element. At Candyman, atmosphere is everything. But above all, the script’s ability to sustain fear through a subjective point of view. What happens could be real or just part of a hallucination. However, DaCosta finds how to link the duality of discourse into something more elaborate. Fear turned into a symbol.

Candyman is an urban legend. To take on the challenge of creating an unhealthy climate around a story, DaCosta resorts to the terror that is insinuated. The director takes considerable time to show it directly. She also relies on the original film to show that Candyman in addition to being a monster, is a legacy born of violence.

The repulsion of fear of ‘Candyman’, the sensory as central point

Candyman plays with the conviction of original evil. But also, it is an intimate notion about what disgusts us as a primitive impulse. She does it through symbols such as the bees that surround the character and the way the body becomes hostage to the invisible. Like Barker’s story and Rose’s movie, Candyman is a condemnation. But for his new version, it is also the translation of contemporary fear and social criticism.

Dehumanization and terror as an open door to fear

In his 2001 film Little Otik, Švankmajer plays with dehumanization and the premise of horror from the absurd in the midst of the everyday. Little Otik is, in fact, a great look at the allegorical always from the sinister. Based on the Czech story “Otesánek” by Karel Jaromír Erben, it reflects on motherhood, pain, grief and hatred through metaphorical horror.

DaCosta uses the same resource to raise Candyman from the premise that the monster embodies cultural evil. In the same way as the bees that symbolize the supernatural, Candyman metaphorizes the sense of injustice. A theme that Bernard Rose had already touched on in the original film, but now becomes more powerful.

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