Mr. DuLac’s review published on Letterboxd:
Candyman is a way to deal with the fact that these things happened to us, are still happening!
The Invisible Man was the last film I saw in theaters until Candyman brought me back. 18 months! Holy shit I had missed the movie theater.
Clive Barker’s original short story was based in Liverpool and centered on classism. Even though none of the prominent characters in the story were black (including Candyman) the story lent itself perfectly into being adapted about the real life Cabrini-Green housing projects.
The story featured an artist visiting the projects to take pictures of the graffiti for her art. It depicted upper class characters musing and visiting lower class slums for their art or to make it look like they were discussing relevant social issues. They were basically depicted as tourists visiting the squalors. They would use the poor’s misfortunes for their art, for entertainment. They are doing this in complete ignorance of course.
The original film is very much still about this. The character of Helen is no longer an artist in the same sense, but the themes are still there even if a lot of people don’t really notice it. Changing the story, to it being a about white woman using a poor black community for her “art”, made it more provocative and more American.
Now fast forward almost 30 years to Nia DaCosta’s sequel (I do feel like this is a real sequel and not a “spiritual sequel” or “soft reboot”) and not only are those themes still there but now they are laser focussed while simultaneously evolving the story to its next logical step.
First off I don’t know if it’s just my bias, being a fan of Barker’s, but I saw several nods to him and the original story (other than the obvious, having a character named Clive). The best one being is making the main character an artist again.
The twist though is that this time around, the character that is using the suffering of a poor black community for their art is also black. I see people complaining about this film being too “woke”. Having a white character being the artist in this situation would have been easy, predictable and done before. Here instead they have a black character presented to us as living a privileged life where he doesn’t have to work for a living, just on his art while his successful girlfriend supports him in a seemingly somewhat lavish lifestyle. Someone that seems to have lived his life without ever witnessing the atrocities he’s depicting and wanting to be praised for it. That character benefiting from the urban atrocities put upon an African-American community is talking about themes you seldom see in film.
Also from the original story is that Candyman lived on in urban legends. The only time he came to life was when those legends degraded or got forgotten. He needs to pop every now and again to stay in people’s minds. This is a great metaphor for how hate crimes get downplayed until a tragic event grabs the headlines again.
Random thought: Bravo for including gay characters in a horror film not just so you can make them victims.
Second Random Thought: The people complaining about white characters being regulated to the background or cannon fodder… the irony almost hurts.
Lastly including gentrification as part of the plot isn’t just current but a logical evolution of the story started in the original film. I don’t think this is “woke”. I think it’s one of the smarter horror sequels I’ve ever seen.
Degrees of Separation from Last Movie or Mini-Series:
-Candyman with Colman Domingo
-Was in Lincoln with Daniel Day-Lewis
-Was in Phantom Thread with Vicky Krieps
-Was in Gutland with Pit Bukowski
-Was in Der Bunker