Candyman starring Yahya Abdul-Manteen II, Teyonah Parris, Tony Todd, Vanessa Estelle Williams, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett

Image Source: ''

Movie: Candyman

Production Companies: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bron Creative, Monkeypaw Productions

Director: Nia DaCosta

Producers: Ian Cooper, Win Rosenfeld, Jordan Peele

Scriptwriters: Jordan Peele, Win Rosenfeld, Nia DaCosta

Main Cast: Yahya Abdul-Manteen II, Teyonah Parris, Tony Todd, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Colman Domingo, Kyle Kaminsky

Release Date: August 27th 2021

Running Time: 91 minutes

Certificate: 15


Well, Candyman was great wasn’t it? Nia DaCosta’s 2021 sequel of the 90s horror franchise Candyman was largely excellent. This was due in no small part to how it tackled racial issues and the art world as well as remaining mostly faithful to its source material. Not bad for Nia DaCosta’s feature directorial debut… Anyway, why not look back on Candyman and whether it’s better than the original? So, without further ado, here is my review of the film.


The film opens in 1977, at the Cabrini-Green Housing projects in Chicago, a young man meets Sherman Fields (Hargrove). He gives kids candy and having a hook for a hand. Soon after, people accuse Fields of using razor blades in candy wrappers. So, the obvious solution for the police is to viciously beat him to death. However, two weeks later Fields is posthumously declared innocent after more kids get razor blades in candy wrappers…..

40 Years Later

After a jump forward to 2019, artist Anthony McCoy (Abdul-Manteen II) is living in Chicago with his girlfriend Brianna Cartwright (Parris) After hearing a misconstrued version of the Candyman story, Anthony heads for the Cabrini-Green Projects. Here, Anthony meets laundromat owner William Burke (Domingo) who tells him about the legend of Candyman. He also mentions he was the young boy who saw the hook handed villain murdered by the police. Burke also implies the long held legend: if you say Candyman 5 times in the mirror he appears and kills you.

The beginning of Candyman’s re-emergence

Obviously, Anthony uses the legend of Candyman as an inspiration for his next art piece for his girlfriend Brianna’s exhibition. What is it? An elaborate piece called Say My Name. However, his work is receives little attention by public and art critic Finley Stephens. All of this enrages Anthony who storms off drunkenly from the exhibit. Later that night, Brianna’s co-exhibitor Clive and his girlfriend fall victim after breaking the golden rule of the Candyman films. All of this is in contrast to Anthony who is painting pictures of people being brutally murdered. Wait what? Damn.

Anthony begins to spiral

Obviously, Anthony becomes even more obsessed by Candyman’s legend much to Brianna’s chagrin. After encountering Sherman’s ghost, the man who was murdered by the cops in the beginning, twice more while researching Helen Lyle’s work Candyman takes another victim. During his research, he meets up with Finley Stephens again and after encouraging her to say Candyman’s name well you can see what’s going to happen.

So, Anthony confronts Burke who tells him the legend originates from the 1800s where black artist Daniel Robitalle (Todd) was lynched for having an interracial affair. I can’t see any similarities here… Since then, the legend of Candyman has continued for generations due to the souls of other murdered black men, who exist in the Candyman ‘hive’, and who are all the subjects of Anthony’s paintings…

Maybe stop saying Candyman’s name

With the legend continuing to spread, a group of girls at a local high school summon Candyman and you should know what happens next. Anthony also begins to physically transform, stemming from a bee sting he got when he first went to Cabrini-Green. He then goes to a hospital where he finds out his mother, Anne-Marie, has lied about his birthplace.

Shockingly, he was the baby Helen Lyle tried to sacrifice and that Candyman had been responsible for the spree not Helen. Truly shocking right there…. The community vowed never to speak of the Candyman legend again. Anthony leaves, being resigned to his fate, wandering through the Cabrini-Green housing estate. 

Burke’s Masterplan

Brianna goes to Burke’s laundromat in Cabrini-Green where he kidnaps her. She wakes up in an abandoned church where she finds Burke and Anthony, albeit in a fugue state. Burke then reveals he not only saw Candyman’s, Sherman Fields, death but also his return as a spirit where he killed Burke’s older sister and friend. So how does Anthony factor into his plan?

Burke plans to use him to reclaim the Candyman legend as an instrument of vengeance rather than a symbol of suffering. To complete the transformation, he saws off Anthony’s hand and replaces it with a hook. He chases Brianna into the Cabrini-Green estate but she kills him with a pen. Tragically, Anthony arrives and falls into her arms before the police arrive and kill Anthony.

Tell everyone to stop saying his name

As police arrest and detain Brianna, they also try to intimidate her into confessing that Anthony provoked them. How does she respond? She summons Candyman in a rear view mirror who appears and massacres the cops. She sees Anthony killing the last cop swarmed by bees where his face transforms into Daniel Robitaille’s face. This confirms Robitaille was using Anthony and Sherman’s faces due to their tragic past. He also tells Brianna to ‘tell everyone’ before he disappears…


Changes in Perspectives in Candyman

To begin my analysis of Candyman, where better to start than if Candyman differs from Candyman? I’ve now said Candyman far too much… Anyway, DaCosta’s Candyman has a major difference from Bernard Rose’s 1992 original. What is that difference? Whose perspective the audience sees the story unfold from. In Bernard Rose’s original, the story unfolded from the perspective of Helen Lyle, very much an outsider before she became obsessed with the legend of Candyman.

However, Nia DaCosta’s Candyman sees Anthony McCoy very much on the inside of the community before he becomes obsessed with the Candyman legend. This distinction shows two different approaches. Rose’s shows how he could have wanted Helen Lyle to be seen as the outsider, a gentrified middle class white woman trying to find out about the legend. DaCosta’s shows how she could have wanted to create a more authentic story contained within the black community whilst building on the ideas of Rose’s original film. Damn, this is getting deep.

The Candyman ‘Hive’ and it’s impact on the audience

The next part of my Candyman analysis is the idea of a Candyman ‘hive’ and how that impacts on the audience. Now, to quickly summarise the Candyman ‘hive’ every person who assumes the moniker becomes interchangeable with the current Candyman. It’s actually simpler than it sounds… Anyway, the idea of the Candyman ‘hive’ could have a darker meaning. Yes, even darker than it is already. The meaning behind the ‘hive’, at least to me, is a representation about how the media treat the murders of black men and women as almost interchangeable. This callous lack of care is seen by how three different Candymen appear in the film at different points yet everyone always treats them as one. Another example is how Robitaille switches between Sherman and McCoy’s faces during the film due to their tragic deaths. 

How Mirrors in Candyman represent the Media/Society

For the final part of my analysis of Candyman I’m going to discuss how the mirrors used for summoning Candyman could be reflective (nice) of the media. So, the basic ritual for summoning Candyman is saying his name five times in any mirror and he then comes and kills you. Normally, the murders are pretty brutal. Keep that detail in mind as it provides context. Now, as I’ve alluded to in the last paragraph Candyman’s ‘hive’ could be representative of how the media treats the murders of black men and women.

That is a similar point here as the mirror could be symbolic of holding a mirror to the media and seeing how they’ve often overexaggerated the extent of black violence. That’s reinforced by how Robitaille was lynched because of not conforming to the media’s philosophy. Even more evidence of this is seen in the ending, while it isn’t specifically a media example, proves the point about how black violence is treated by US Society. What is this? The cops try to coerce Brianna into saying Anthony provoked the cops. 


To summarise Nia DaCosta’s Candyman, the film is a brilliant sequel to the 1992 film of the same name which expands on the lore, pays homage to its predecessor and weaves political issues into the narrative with ease whilst still remaining a horrifying watch at points.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Target Audience: 15+

Content Warning: Severe Frightening and Intense Scenes, Severe Violence and Gore, Mild alcohol and drugs references, Moderate Profanity

Recommendation: Yes