Out today is the Jordan Peele produced horror sequel/reboot Candyman. Contrary to popular misconception, Candyman is not Jordan Peele's directorial follow-up to Get Out and Us despite his name plastered all over the marketing. This re-imagination of Candyman is directed by Nia DaCosta and follows a young black artist named Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) who is in desperate need of inspiration for his next art show. One night he and his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris) invite her brother over to dinner and he asks them if they want to hear a scary story. He recounts the urban legend of Candyman, a ghost who can be conjured if you look in the mirror and say his name 5 times. Anthony becomes transfixed by the story and is convinced the Candyman just might be his new muse, so he begins a quest to learn as much as he can about who Candyman was. He'll soon learn that he'll get more than he bargained for as Candyman starts infiltrating his life more and more each day.
As someone who really likes the original Candyman from 1992, I was really excited about this direct sequel reboot to that film (we really need to come up with a better term for those since they seem all too common nowadays). One thing that I felt was really great about that film was how the protagonist Helen found herself in a living nightmare that did more than simply threaten her bodily harm, Candyman ruined her life in every possible way. Part of his torture was destroying everything around her and making her look like the one responsible. In this film, they have ample opportunities to attempt their own version of this which they even set up (and with a black male protagonist in today's political climate would have been very interesting), but they shy away from it. Now, I'm not saying it should have been a carbon copy, but this was one of the aspects of Candyman that made him different.
One element I struggled with also, from a horror film perspective, is that since Anthony is so obsessed with the idea of Candyman he never really is afraid of him...and so neither are we. The scares essentially all happen to secondary characters we don't care about so it's almost impossible to feel any tension. But the ending is the most problematic because it mostly attempts to be shocking without making any sense. It's like the filmmakers thought that a series of reveals would bring everything together when instead it just leaves the audience scratching their heads.
Ultimately Candyman is a disappointment. Despite strong performances from its leads and some interesting ideas (because honestly, the idea of Candyman as an art exhibit was incredibly cool) it just fails at the most important aspect of a horror movie: being scary.