The forthcoming Candyman, which opens in June 2020, will be the latest film produced by horror auteur Jordan Peele. Odds are it will both gross obscene amounts at the box office and launch a billion posts dissecting all the thoughtful mise-en-scène, plus billions more identifying what the movie is aware of, or trying to be about. The thing is, I just want it to be fun. Like Get Out was. Like Us kind of wasn’t, if we’re keeping it a buck fifty. I realize I may sound like a giant whiny baby, but Peele’s fixation on symbolism swallowed everything else that might have been good about Us, like the story, roughly 25 percent of which was rushed out in a dense monologue before the final act.
Candyman, a remake of Bernard Rose’s 1992 original, shouldn’t be like that. Peele wrote and produced the film, while Nia DaCosta directed. DaCosta, a fellow horror buff, described in a recent interview how the two balanced each other out: “What’s fun about working with Jordan is our horror aesthetics are different,” DaCosta said. “Jordan is really brilliant at not showing everything and my instinct is to do the exact opposite.” Translation: We’ll be treated to both the blood spatter on the compact mirror, and the grisly disembowelment.
If there were bathroom mirrors and incorrigible children who felt a compulsion to do stuff like step on cracks in your grade school, you’ve likely heard of the Candyman. You say his name five times, he appears in your reflection, and then you die ugly. In Candyman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (The Get Down, Aquaman, Watchmen, your sexy-time dreams) plays the role of the incorrigible child—he’s a giddy photo-essayist poking around an urban legend that people keep frostily warning him off of. Based on the trailer, it seems that after being hard-headed and chasing the story for a while, Yahya begins to realize that the call is coming from inside the house, so to speak.
It’s at that point that Vanessa A. Williams shows up to tearfully tell him to shut his mouth. I’d like to note that I have lived my entire life between her first outing as Anne-Marie McCoy and now—the only things that have changed are her hair and the lighting.
Vanessa A. Williams returning to Candyman 28 years later and not aging a day. pic.twitter.com/2iwlv4Mmva— Justin: The Legendary Journeys (@JustinCentric) February 27, 2020
Both DaCosta and Peele have been mum about exactly how they’re going to use Tony Todd, the original Candyman, but they have teased his involvement. Perhaps he’ll sit his successor down at some point to patiently explain the Change—a kind of slasher-flick-and-the-bees talk. Then Todd will smile warmly and place his fire-ass shearling coat on Yahya’s broad and capable shoulders, saying, “I have no more to teach you. Go forth and slice some gullets, my son.”
Seriously, though: Look at the way he glides across the floor in this warehouse-loft-gallery situation, playfully dragging his hook along the wall. The way he tilts his head back with Mr. Blonde–in–Reservoir Dogs–type whimsy. And again, THE COAT:
Add to this the slowed, grim remix of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” that suggests this movie might be a little in on the joke, and I’m in there opening night. The next night and the night after that, too.