Will Roose’s review published on Letterboxd:
I had not gotten around to seeing Bernard Rose's original Candyman until a couple of weeks ago, and while I had heard positive things, did not expect it to be one of the best horror films from the 1990s, creating one of the most unnerving and ominous villains to ever come out of the slasher genre, all while tackling the theme of racial injustice through a compelling slow-burn mystery. Nia DaCosta takes over as director for the latest sequel, although some may not know it given the emphasis on Jordan Peele's involvement (who co-writes the screenplay with Win Rosenfeld and DaCosta).
Candyman 2021 has already proved divisive among audiences, and while I found it to be a mostly great follow-up, with an excellent first hour steeped in masterful direction, the grand scope of its ideas quickly collapse into a messy third act that frustrates more than satisfies. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has always stood out to me as the gem in any supporting cast, whether bringing a cool charisma to Black Manta or capturing the emotional pain of Bobby Seale in Chicago 7. This is the first time I have seen him in the lead, and is able to naturally shift from a troubled artist to a victim of potentially sinister circumstances.
Similar to Shyamalan's recent Old, there is some truly unique cinematography and sound design I have never seen before, and it is a testament to how DaCosta has already established herself as a bold new voice in the genre. While the gauge of a film's "scariness" is subjective, I cannot think of a single scene containing tension or terror, instead relying on disconcerting visuals and atmosphere. While I have no problem with this, I found it surprising that there are more moments in Bernard Rose's film that haven't left my mind. At a brisk 85 minutes (not including credits), the convoluted half-hour at the end feels much more significant compared to a longer film that missed the mark in the same area. This is a film that I will be re-watching as soon as it's available digitally, and while I'm not sure if there will be more to appreciate or critique the second time around, I am very excited to see DaCosta's take on The Marvels next year. B