Candyman ★★★★

"You are far from innocent. But they will say you were. And that's all that matters."

A very welcome treat and vivid, alluring horror even for someone who has yet to see the 1992 original. Jordan Peele remains one of the most exciting names working in the genre and his sneaky, sly, socially conscious stamp on the things that go bump in the night is felt here. But what I think most amazed me, and impressed me, was that Peele's influence stopped being overwhelmingly felt at the tone and demeanor of the film. 2021's Candyman has one true secret weapon in the form of its director: Nia DaCosta.

Chicago stands alongside Los Angeles and New York as one of the most cinematic cities in the country. DaCosta makes it feel sprawling and crowded, pretentious but full of soul. The massive skyscrapers and the expensive apartments and the vain art shows get met with the ancient, hallow remnants of abandoned ghettos and burned down churches and the city's duality is every bit a character as any of the people we follow through this nightmare.

The cast is all very good, but the real standouts are the two leads. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonah Paris are utterly believable and compelling as this couple, aspiring artists trying to make their way up in life and then trying to make sense of this nightmare that's been brought on by this horrible destiny. Yahya especially continues to be one of my favorite actors moving forward, knocking it out of the park in every project I see him in.

And the finale genuinely left me jaw dropped. Horrifying on two levels. That's all because Candyman anchors itself in both the fantastical and the frighteningly realistic. A gruesome blending of fiction and fact.

( side note: I got to see Candyman at the Lincoln Theater in Belleville, Illinois. Maybe the most gorgoeus auditorium I have ever been in. )