A new take on the classic Clive Barker tale, our new entry in the series takes the titular character’s origin story and changes it up a little. We get told a tale of an artist, Anthony, now living in the gentrified Cabrini Green neighborhood of Chicago, who finds out about the legend of the Candyman. In life, a kindly Black man who would hand out candy to children. When a child dies due to a razor blade found in some candy, authorities wrongly point the finger and ultimately kill the poor man in a shocking case of police brutality. Now anyone who says “Candyman” five times in a mirror will come face-to-face with him and suffer his wrath. Anthony decides to use this legend in his latest artistic endeavor. As he delves deeper into the story he realizes it didn’t actually start with the more recent tale, but goes back well over a century (thus tying this into the original story of how Candyman came to be). As our story progresses, violence surges around Anthony, and he becomes the primary suspect for the grisly murders the Candyman commits.
I wanted to like this movie. Ultimately I found it a little boring. It was co-written by Jordan Peele (along with Win Rosenfeld and director Nia DaCosta), but doesn’t seem to carry the same quality as his two previous horror hits, “Get Out” and “Us.” It is an often slow slog through too many different characters and their takes on the various social issues the movie is trying to be sympathetic to, but often just comes off as a bit too heavy handed. While the film has some intriguing ideas in its story, good performances from its cast, and interesting visuals, I feel in this case they didn’t add up to a good movie.
Despite what the title might lead you to believe, this 2019 film concerns Richie and his sister Becca. While both are adults and living on their own, Becca often has to intervene in Richie’s life as he suffers from various bouts with mental illness. Preparing to go off to graduate school, and having yet told her brother she is leaving town, Becca receives a series of concerning text messages from him. She rushes to his apartment in the middle of the night to find his body hanging in a closet. Distraught and shocked, she turns around to find Richie standing before her, alive and well. Richie explains that he has, in fact, killed himself, but he came back through this bizarre, fleshy, vaginal growth that has appeared on his bedroom wall; effectively being born again.
What follows is at times touching and funny, at times shocking and disturbing. The performances are great by Heston Horwin and Jillian Harris, Richie and Becca respectively, as they try to figure out what is going on and over the course of the night resurface old family drama. Richie unsure of his place in the world while sister Becca wonders what more she could have if she didn’t tend to Richie. It isn’t often you get such an amalgamation of family drama and horror in the same story, but the movie pulls it off fairly deftly. While not streaming for free, it is available through most streaming services for rental or purchase, and is on Blu-Ray in the USA and Canada. Definitely worth watching.