“Candyman” Review Round-Up: Searing, Strikingly Beautiful, & Savage

The reviews are in for writer/director Nia DaCosta’s Candyman, and they only further cement DaCosta’s status as one of the rising stars of her generation. It’s easy to shock viewers with splatter but the old gut-and-run gets awfully boring awfully fast. Far better is the slow creep, the horror that teases and then threatens,” writes The New York Times’s Manohla Dargis. DaCosta’s film teases, threatens, and then some.

DaCosta’s Candymanco-written with Jordan Peele, is centered on another rising star, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Anthony McCoy, a talented artist on the hunt for inspiration. McCoy’s search leads him and his girlfriend Brianna (If Beale Street Could Talk‘s Teyonah Parris) into a luxury condo in Chicago where the Cabrini towers once stood. It’s here where, decades ago, the legendary Candyman once terrorized people in writer/director Bernard Rose’s 1992 original. McCoy thinks the Candyman’s brutal legend might just be the stuff of artistic gold, and that he can use this dark history to influence his art. Instead, the young artist finds out that the Candyman’s power reaches far beyond mere artistic inspiration, and the budding artist will soon transform in ways he couldn’t have imagined.

With this bit of boilerplate wrapped up, let’s get to the critic’s reactions. Without further ado, your spoiler-free reactions and mini-reviews:

Owen Gleiberman, Variety: “One reason this “Candyman” never feels like a formula slasher film, even during the murders, is that DaCosta stages them with a spurting operatic dread that evokes the grandiloquent sadism of mid-period De Palma.”

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: “The attention to race, police brutality, community displacement and related issues doesn’t mean the thrills are any less spine-tingling or the bloodletting less ghastly.”

Keith Watson, Slant Magazine: “Candyman doesn’t merely note the connection between fear and remembrance, it also interrogates it from every possible angle.”

David Sexton, New Statesmen: “Candyman is quite a showreel for [director Nia DaCosta’s] talents, making brilliant use of inversion and reflection throughout. Together, Peele and DaCosta have made a definitive Black Lives Matter horror.”

Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times: “From the opening moments of Nia DaCosta’s gory yet strikingly beautiful and socially relevant “Candyman,” it’s clear we’re in for an especially haunting and just plain entertaining thrill ride.”

Megan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting: “It’s an ambitious and haunting reclamation realized by DaCosta’s bold vision, blending horrors real and supernatural.”

For more on Candyman, check out these stories:

New “Candyman” Video Puts The Focus On The Art Behind the Horror

Go Inside “Candyman” With Writer/Director Nia DaCosta and Co-Writer/Producer Jordan Peele

“Candyman” Director Nia DaCosta’s Stirring Juneteenth Message

Featured image: Featured image: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in ‘Candyman.’ Courtesy Universal Pictuers/MGM


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The Credits is an online magazine that tells the story behind the story to celebrate our large and diverse creative community. Focusing on profiles of below-the-line filmmakers, The Credits celebrates the often uncelebrated individuals who are indispensable to the films and TV shows we love.