Larry’s review published on Letterboxd:
To say Candyman was a disappointment implies it deserved to be taken seriously at all, which would be true for most horror remakes. But interestingly, the original Candyman actually deserves to have a bit of a cultural reimagining of it's own; a kind of ungentrifying of sorts that aims to leave the amazing Tony Todd horror character in the hands of people who might have a better understanding of generational trauma and its impact on storytelling, art and deification.
That's the direction the new Candyman embarks on in the first half of this remake. It's an invigorating, and direct take on some of the themes that may have been smoothed over in the 90's version. Some slick directing, a nice score that blends in the old theme music, and interesting main character draw you in to a story that makes the gradual uncovering of the Candyman legend mystifying and nightmarish again.
Things quickly start to devolve when the film has to resort to the horror elements which is where the deep rooted disappointment starts to set in. None of the horror pieces are effective and it all feels uncontrolled and basic. Think about the mindless and meaningless slaughter of modern day pieces of crap like Netflix's "Fear Street" trilogy and that's what Candyman decides to go with in place of psychological horror. Throw in some undercooked body horror that we've seen in countless horror films in recent memory and you have a horror film that misses almost every shot it takes at being scary or unsettling.
To be fair, this is not Clive Barker's Candyman. This is Nia DaCosta's Candyman and there is no doubt a contingency of fans and viewers who want Candyman to be more like this and less like the original which relies too heavily on white characters to tell a black story. While this is a valid criticism of the original, I dont hold it against the film at all. At the end of the day the original film was an excellently made horror movie with a very creative and original horror villain. It gets the horror and atmosphere right, which is the most important thing for... well, you know.... horror films. The presence of whiteness over Clive Barker's original version is benign and not malicious. This new film was presented with a perfect opportunity to course correct that mistake while also delivering a quality horror film and it unfortunately falls pretty short.
The ending in particular was what killed the film for me personally. Candyman has the potential to be a deep, tragic, yet horrifying character but he is turned into a cop killing antihero; think Venom with a hook hand. Jordan Peele has his fingerprints all over the terrible ending and it was enough to sink a promising film from DaCosta.
Also worth noting, if you are sticking around to see Tony Todd step into the role one last time you are sure to be disappointed. The effect to which his name and likeness is used in this film is bizarre and unsatisfying in a way that only the age of CGI and Disney style de-aging can accomplish. The film couldnt resist giving you one more razor blade to chew on before the credits.