Candyman ★★★

Nia DaCosta unearths terror not in the legend of the man with a hook for a hand, the mere mention of whose name is a harbinger of carnage, but in the proliferation of violence and intergenerational trauma that both necessitates and engenders his existence. Her take on the Candyman myth, which is ambitious, visceral and complex, serves as a metaphor for the stories lost and eradicated by institutional violence and gentrification, as well as a fable about the need to reconceptualise those stories so that they aren't erased from our collective consciousness.

Though her approach is far from neat, there is a boldness to her attempts to draw parallels between Candyman's violence - which is stark, brutal and merciless - and the violence inflicted on black people and black communities over the years. This boldness feeds into a sense that she has something meaningful to say about the horror she's portraying, which makes it easier to overlook and forgive the occasional missteps. Likewise, though a revelation late in the film serves to destabilise some of the film's thematic coherence and while the characterisation is somewhat weak, her arresting direction and efforts to re-imagine Candyman for the 21st century result in a powerful experience that is faithful in spirit to Bernard Rose's original film while also managing to feel urgent and contemporary.


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