2 out of 5 stars
I love movies, and I find comfort among the many genres of cinematic masterpieces. However, horror movies hold a special place in my heart. That is why, when I go see a horror movie remake of a classic, I am often let down.
Horror classics, for me, range everywhere between 1960s “Psycho” up to 1996’s “Scream.” But remakes are often disappointing, and “Candyman” was no exception.
The original film was awfully gruesome and followed a student doing research on Chicago’s local folklore. The premise of the story is simple: A man with a very sharp hook will appear to kill you if you say his name five times while staring into a mirror.
“Candyman…Candyman…Candyman…Candyman…” You get the rest.
The new film follows the same premise, but with a bit of a twist that alludes to the original film. An artist is looking for inspiration and travels into the projects of Chicago to learn about stories of the residents that live there and their struggles with gentrification.
The artist comes across the story of the Candyman and dives into it, eventually causing several murders because of his latest art piece: a mirror, with the legend attached, telling people to say the name five times in a row.
Eventually, the artist goes mad as the spirit of the Candyman starts to infiltrate his mind and body. This is when he begins to do even more investigation, finding out that he has deeper connections to the Candyman than he knew before.
Overall, the film wasn’t horrible. It had great themes, one of which was the ongoing gentrification of the Chicago area, a problem that is all too real for people outside of the movies. Additionally, there was more backstory provided about the origins of the Candyman, and it was presented in a very artistic and intriguing way.
However, what must first be addressed is that the film lacked some important factors that all horror films need.
First, you need the bad guy, the menace. Someone, or something, truly terrifying that can make you shiver into the night thinking about it lurking under your bed. Candyman himself fits the budget.
Second, you need a lot of bodies to drop. Don’t get too attached to any characters because they are meant to make you love them, just so they can die and make you feel something. Nothing makes you more afraid than knowing not a single soul is safe. Yes, a lot of people die in “Candyman.”
Third, there has to be a story that provides a lot of background. The mistake that most characters make in horror films is learning about a legend that has a warning. So, there is a backstory for why the villain kills and there are rules to the game…the game of death. In our case, DO NOT SAY CANDYMAN FIVE TIMES WHILE STARING INTO A MIRROR! But of course, no one listens.
Fourth, murder weapon. Something iconic and memorable. There was Michael Myers’ knife, the Texas Chainsaw, Scream had a curved filet knife and so on and so forth. The exception would have to be movies dealing with ghosts or the devil, like “The Conjuring.” Candyman has a hook, so we are good in this department.
Fifth, and probably the most important, the scare factor. Jump scares can easily make up for what the story lacks if they are done well. Usually, if movies can’t pull off scaring people by surprise, they’ll just put you in an atmosphere of darkness, play some scary music, make you think there is going to be a jump scare enough to where your fight or flight response is triggered, and then people start disappearing.
Basically, it can be all surprise, all psychological, or a little bit of both. Unfortunately, the scare factor just wasn’t there for “Candyman.” There weren’t really any jump scares or surprise scenes, so they were relying heavily on the psychological part. But the filmmakers failed.
The redeeming part of the film, as I mentioned above, was the backstory of the Candyman. When any character was explaining the legends attached to the infamous killer, the screen would shift, showing shadow puppets acting out the story.
On the whole it was super artsy. It reminded me a lot of when Hermione Granger tells the tale of the three brothers in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.” Animation added in for the purposes of storytelling is one of my favorite things.
Even though I enjoyed some aspects of the film, the vast majority was really disappointing given that the scare factor just wasn’t there. This is super pivotal to horror films and tops even the greatest themes.