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At The Movies: Oh, the ‘Candyman’ can

“Candyman” takes a familiar tale, a classic in the horror film genre, and gives it a contemporary socio-economic and psychological twist.

“Say the name.”

Sound familiar?

Look no further than the ““Say the name,” ”Say her name,” or “Say his name” chants of the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement.

The latest “Candyman” deals with topics of artistic appropriation, gentrification and the myth of story. It’s an enigma wrapped inside an enigma. Or, a piece of candy inside a shiny wrapper. It holds up a symbolic mirror to us all.

The new “Candyman” is directed by Jordan Peele (Oscar nominee, best picture, “BlackKKKlansman,” 2018).

In his previous theatrical motion picture releases, Peele updated the horror film genre with “Get Out” (Oscar nominee, best picture, 2017), the superb thriller that put a psychological spin on white privilege and micro-aggression against persons of color, and the equally-scary “Us” (2019), which viewed a black upper class family through the horror-film lens.

Peele co-wrote the screenplay for the latest “Candyman” with Win Rosenfeld (producer, TV’s “Lorena,” 2019; “The Twilight Zone,” 2019-’20; “The Last O.C.,” 2019-’20) and Nia DaCosta (director, “Little Woods,” 2018).

DaCosta directs “Candyman” with a certitude and attention to detail that is thrilling in itself to behold. Collaborating with Director of Photography John Guleserian and Production Designer Cara Brower (“Us”), DaCosta provides the requisite jump cuts (to make you jump in your seat), enough slasher-film type gore (I am not a fan.) and an intellectual connect-the-dots between racism and repression and distorted personalities and the culture of violence. Ladies and gentleman, start your graduate theses.

Composer Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe adds to the movie’s overall sense of tension and dread.

Shadow-puppet animation sequences by Manual Cinema, of Chicago, tell the back story of Candyman.

“Candyman” is a sequel of sorts in the “Candyman” franchise.

The original “Candyman” (1992) was succeeded by “Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh” (1995) and “Candyman: Day of the Dead” (1999).

The latest “Candyman,” as with its predecessors, is based on characters from a short story, “The Forbidden,” from the collection, “Books of Blood” (1985), by Clive Barker, and those created by Bernard Rose (director, screenwriter, “Candyman,” 1992).

The legend of Candyman posits that he is the ghost of an artist and son of a slave murdered in the late 19th century. If one stands in front of a mirror and says Candyman five times, Candyman will appear. And then you will be sorry. Don’t try this at home. Or anywhere for that matter.

The 2021 “Candyman” stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Primetime Emmy recipient, TV’s “Watchmen”; the movies, “The Trial Of The Chicago 7, 2020; “Aquaman,” 2018) as Anthony McCoy, an artist who brings the legend of Candyman to his canvas and to life. Candyman spreads like a virus through McCoy’s body (which is particularly squirm-inducing), mind and spirit.

Kudos to the film-makers for the Basquiat reference to artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). Basquiat’s “Untitled” (1982) sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby’s in 2017, an American artist auction record. McCoy is fancied as a Basquiat type.

Teyonah Parris (TV’s “WandaVision,” 2021; “If Beale Street Could Talk,” 2018) is McCoy’s girlfriend, Brianna, an art gallery director.

McCoy learns about the legend of Candyman from William (Colman Domingo), who works at a laundromat in the Cabrini-Green section of Chicago where the story again takes place.

Tony Todd (Daniel Robitaille, Candyman), seen briefly in “Candyman” as befits a scary character in an effective horror film, balances the malevolence and merriment that is Candyman. His eyes gleam. His smile widens. His hook glistens.

Todd performed the excellent one-man show of August Wilson’s “How I Learned What I Learned” at the 2021 Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival at DeSales University.

Virgina Madsen (Helen Lyle) is heard in a voiceover.

The horror genre springs forth from the intellect. The modern era includes Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” (1818), Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820), Jane C. Loudon’s “The Mummy!: Or a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century” (1827), Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” (1886) and Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” (1897).

Each of these, and other works, created an icon of horror that translated from page to stage to screen.

Add to these legends that of “Candyman,” especially as embodied by Tony Todd and re-imagined by Jordan Peele and Nia DaCosta.

Say their names.


MPAA Rated R (Restricted Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.) for bloody horror violence and language, including some sexual references; Genre: Horror, Thriller. Run time: 1 hr., 31 min. Distributed by Universal Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous:

“Candyman” opening credits include the song, “The Candy Man” (1972) sung by Sammy Davis Jr. and written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. The song was originally sung by Aubrey Woods in the film, “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory” (1971). “Candyman” film director Nia DaCosta is the first black female director to have a No. 1 film at the theatrical movie box office. Closing credits include shadow puppet sequences. “Candyman” was filmed in Chicago.

Theatrical Movie Box Office,

Sept. 3-6: “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” opened at No. 1 for the Labor Day weekend, with $75.3 million, in 4,300 theaters, one week, dethroning “Candyman,” $10.3 million, in 3,569 theaters, $38.8 million, two weeks.

“Shang-Chi” had the second-highest opening in COVID era after “Black Widow” opened with $80.3 million in July.

“Shang-Chi” was projected to set a four-day holiday weekend record with $83.5 million, breaking the previous Labor Day record of “Halloween” $30.6 million in 2007.

3. “Free Guy” dropped one place, $8.8 million, in 3,885 theaters, $92 million, four weeks. 4. “Jungle Cruise” stayed in place, $4 million, in 3,075 theaters, $105.7 million, six weeks. 5. “PAW Patrol: The Movie” dropped two places, $4 million, in 3,004 theaters, $30 million, three weeks. 6. ”Don’t Breathe 2” dropped one place, $2.3 million, in 2,176 theaters, $28 million, four weeks. 7. “Respect” dropped one place, $1.2 million, in 2,107 theaters, $21.8 million, four weeks. 8. “The Suicide Squad” dropped one place, $912,000, in 1,561 theaters, $54.4 million, five weeks. 9. “Black Widow” moved up three places, $779,444, in 750 theaters, $182.5 million, nine weeks. 10. “The Night House” dropped one place, $521,296, in 1,020 theaters, $6.2 million, three weeks.

Box office information from Box Office Mojo as of Sept. 10 is subject to change.


Sept. 10:

“The Card Counter,”

R: Paul Schrader directs: Willem Dafoe, Oscar Isaac, Tye Sheridan and Tiffany Haddish in the Action, Drama, Thriller. An ex-military interrogator becomes a gambler. Will he hold ‘em, or will he Willem Dafoe ‘em?


R: Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly direct: Kristen Bell, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Paul Walter Hauser and Bebe Rexha in the Comedy. Housewives try to pull off a $40-million coupon scam.

“Time Is Up,”

No MPAA rating: Elisa Amoruso directs Bella Thorne, Benjamin Mascolo, Sebastiano Pigazzi and Roberto Davide in the Drama. A couple must reclaim their lives minute by minute.

“Small Engine Repair,”

R: John Pollono directs Jon Bernthal, Shea Whigham, Jordana Spiro and Ciara Bravo in the Comedy. Friends agree to help a young woman.


R: James Wan directs Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young and Michole Briana White in the Horror Thriller. Nightmares of murders become reality.

“Bad Candy,”

No MPAA rating: Scott B. Hansen and Desiree Connell direct Zach Galligan, Corey Taylor, Derek Russo and Kenneth Trujillo in the Horror Thriller. Radio deejays tell a tale on Halloween night.

Movie opening information from the Internet Movie Database is subject to change.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSAL PICTURES From left: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Anthony McCoy), Tony Todd (Candyman), “Candyman.”