A visual artist accidentally awakens a monster from a Chicago urban legend in the first trailer for candy man† Co-written by Jordan Peele and director Nia DaCosta (best known for her 2019 film) small forest), it’s technically another sequel to the 1992 film it inspired, rather than a straight remake. It even seems to follow the trend of recent projects like: guards and Cobra Kai: Honoring the past storyline(s) while bringing it firmly into the present.
(Spoilers for original movie below.)
Based on Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden”, the 1992 original candy man starred Virginia Madsen as a Chicago sociology graduate student whose thesis is on urban legends. She hears about a series of murders in the Cabrini-Green social housing project. The killer is rumored to be the ghost of a late 19th-century artist named Daniel Robitaille (Tony Todd), who was lynched for fathering an illegitimate child by a white woman. The mob cut off his right hand and smeared him with honey to lure bees to sting him before scattering his ashes on what is now the site of the project.
Legend has it that anyone can summon Candyman by repeating his name five times while looking in a mirror. Candyman will then appear to kill the summoner with a hook instead of his mangled stump. Helen’s disbelief in the legend reawakens Candyman, who embarks on another series of murders while pinning Helen as the culprit. (There is some evidence that Helen is the reincarnation of the woman Daniel once loved.)
It’s easy to see why Peele would be drawn to the story, given the original themes of race and social class in Chicago’s public housing projects. The original Candyman himself, Tony Todd, says: “I’d rather he do it, someone with intelligence, who will be attentive and delve into the whole racial makeup of who Candyman is and why he existed in the early years. .” Peele is also fascinated by look-alikes and mirror images, and candy man offers both in abundance.
The film is set ten years after the Cabrini Towers were demolished, as visual artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, We, guards) and his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris, If Beale Street Could Talk) move to a luxury loft in the now gentrified neighborhood. With his career drawing to a close, Anthony decides to create an art exhibition centered on the urban legend.
According to the official synopsis:
Anthony begins to examine these macabre details in his studio like fresh corn on paintings, unwittingly opening a door to a complex past that unravels his own sanity and unleashing a terrifying viral wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with fate.
The trailer opens with a recap of the legend. We see a group of teenage girls in a school bathroom who all say the name five times. Things don’t end well for the girls, and the event traumatizes another youngster who happens to enter a stall right after the ritual but before the murders. We catch a glimpse of bees and a hook in the reflection of a compact mirror.
Until Anthony and Brianna cuddle in their new loft as Anthony’s voiceover declares, “I really feel connected to this neighborhood.” He should: His mother, Anne-Marie McCoy (Vanessa Williams, who reprises her 1992 role) was one of the original inhabitants of Cabrini-Green. In the original film, Candyman kidnapped baby Anthony, and Madsen Helen sacrificed herself to save him.
“Sh. do not. Do not say that.”
Then Anthony meets a local old-timer (Colman Domingo, Euphoria), who tells him about the urban legend, then we see several gallery owners view Anthony’s new Candyman-focused exhibition. “I hope to spread the word about Candyman,” we hear Anthony say. “The mirror invites you to summon it.” Of course, any customers who dare to say the name five times will die violently. Anne-Marie certainly knows better, clapping back when her adult son begins to say the name: ‘Sst. Do not. Do not say that.’ (I can smell viral meme potential.)
Anthony seems to be connected to Candyman thanks to the events of that first movie. We see him staring at his reflection, only to see Candyman staring back. (Todd is also back as Daniel/Candyman.) The hook comes out of the mirror and moves to Anthony’s own outstretched hand. “He had a purpose for you, to be another of his terrible stories,” Anne-Marie tells him, to which Anthony responds, “I think he found me.”
candy man hits theaters on June 12, 2020.
View image by YouTube/Universal Pictures