The newest entry in the Hollywood remake/reboot train drops this week in the form of Nia DaCosta’s “Candyman” starring Yahya Adbul-Mateen II. I loved the first “Candyman” and think that film alone was enough to put the character (and Tony Todd) in the conversation of all-time great horror icons. The hook wielding killer swarming with bees that could infiltrate the depths of your soul with his words delivered one of the 90’s classic horror flicks. I hoped this long awaited “spiritual sequel” would deliver another haunting ride inside of this world, and at times it did.
It was certainly enjoyable despite not living up to the impact of the original. But really, how often do these new remakes/reboots actually pull that off? It’s a capable horror flick that provides a slew of grisly sequences that should appeal to fans of the genre. These moments are tension filled, they are unnerving at times, and DaCosta’s direction frames the shots nicely to build on those heightened emotions. This is when the film is a blast and running on all cylinders because it was unrelenting and enjoyable.
The performances overall were serviceable. Abdul-Mateen II in the lead was capable. He certainly pours himself into this role. But the writing didn’t do him many favors. The character and his decision making come across as thinly developed and overall, his progression through the plot-line does feel guided and lacking some authentic layering. Teyonah Parris was solid as well and she makes the most of a generic character-type. Colman Domingo, who I normally love, was serviceable in this role, but even he was relegated to a ton of exposition. Something he honestly did deliver with his usual charming charisma, only this time with an unassumingly creepy undertone to it all. But I felt like the performers here, had they been given the opportunity, could’ve done more.
Overall, the acting in this film was fine. However, the writing was surprisingly thin. Or at least questionably unambitious. The story felt like it was going through the motions. It at times feels like a reboot. Other times it feels like a sequel. And while it does update the story to modern times. It doesn’t really do anything unique with it. So, despite some references to the past, this movie felt like a capable, but slightly uninspired remake that delivered new interpretations of the horror elements, with only a slightly tweaked narrative to connect it all.
I liked “Candyman” but didn’t love it. I was honestly hoping for more, but I would say to check it out if you are a fan of the original. It captures moments of that ominous atmosphere the first thrived on. It also shows respect to the source material. Sadly though, this movie just didn’t expand on that material like you would hope from what appeared in the trailers, to potentially be a fresh entry in the franchise after so many years.
Anthony J Digioia II - SilverScreen Analysis © All Rights Reserved