See what I did there? Yes. Avoided saying/typing that name, 5 times. Just in case (bit like saying ‘Bloody Mary’ or ‘Beetlejuice’: exercise caution!). That said? The very fact that such mythology strikes a chord almost 30 years after the original CANDYMAN was released..speaks volumes about the brand’s longevity..
Why IS Candyman still cool?
One can make a case for the personnel entrusted with the new soft reboot / ‘spiritual sequel’ (titled, simply CANDYMAN). Nia DaCosta is a very hip and happening director, no question. She’s taken the helm from Bernard Rose, whose treatment of Clive Barker’s original property started the whole saga on film back in 1992. Jordan Peele is also on board the latest movie and he is bringing that kind of GET OUT relevance and grit to the piece.
The cast of the original had a great deal to do with the success of the brand. There was a performance chemistry there. Two actors at just the right point of curiosity in their career. Tony Todd very scary yet hypnotic, too, as the titular horror character. Virginia Madsen is an impossible fusion of elegant and earthy; glacial yet warm. She is convincing as a field investigator / reporter yet somehow also as damsel in distress: strong yet vulnerable. That was the key to the dynamic and a kind of war between sexes amidst the horror and supernatural jump scares.
Indeed, it’s remarkable how little the gore has to do with what makes this legend ‘work’ and therefore warrant reinvention. Ultimately, it comes down to the real world scares and evils such as class and race war; poverty; urban decay vs gentrification; skepticism vs superstition. The eponymous demonic presence is a personification of those primal fears and their fusion to seemingly civilised modernity.
In many senses, Candyman could not have come back at a more opportune moment. There is a market for soft reboots and remakes everywhere, across genres, including horror /slasher flicks. And transatlantic culture, if not the whole world, is engaged in a debate revolving around identity politics. At what point are we ever truly ‘free’, not only in our own lives but in terms of erasing perceived legacies of injustice?
I welcome historical revisionism and thereby engendering equality (no, not ‘equity’: that’s a dull branch of estate law in the UK). But there is now a very real danger of inviting rather than defeating divisive polarities, by forcing a legacy of guilt on today’s generations for their ancestors’ sins. I would prefer that we were all joining in shared celebration at new unity and progression.
Candyman sits between that potential for progress and the one wrong step that sets us all back into primal fear, hatred and irrational conflict. The fact that it’s wrapped in the genre tropes of horror and thrills, by an amazing new cast and crew and in a soft reboot of a classic property? That just makes watching the forthcoming film all the more compelling a prospect.