Candyman ★★★

A drive-in theater opened about 20 minutes away from me at the beginning of August, the only drive-in that now exists in Delaware.

While there are certainly some flaws, quality-wise, with seeing a movie at the drive-in, this allowed me to spend my birthday by seeing a movie outside of my home for the first time since March 2020. To be able to do it with my most anticipated film of each of the last two years was a dream come true.

A shame that the film wasn't the resounding success that I hoped it would be, however. I wouldn't call it a failure, either. It's... complicated.

Nia DaCosta is taking big swings in this sequel to/update on the 1992 original, a film which a rewatch the night before this confirmed is one of my all-time favorites. DaCosta opens up doors to a lot of fascinating ideas in the film, exploring the way in which urban legends morph, take on new lives of their own. Even more noteworthy is how she uses the lore of Candyman to demonstrate how gentrification and, more specifically, reconstruction, can never change a system that is permanently broken. The system must be dismantled, destroyed, not patched over.

Unfortunately, those ideas are baked into a feature which can't figure out what to do with its characters, or the other nine plates it's spinning at all times. The big ideas feel under-cooked in a 90-minute movie that has the aura of something chopped down by a studio from a 3-hour original cut. Character development is practically non-existent. There's no understanding of who these characters are, no grounding in their humanity, and they're taking on some arcs that are absolutely wild to a climax that is bewildering.

A scene with teen girls in a bathroom feels like it comes out of an entirely different movie, some mid-2000s schlock horror scene made for a teaser trailer with no bearing on anything. For every positive thing I want to say about the film, it feels as if there's a negative counter to it, and the further I get away from the film, the more I struggle to focus on the positives.