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Jordan Peele’s production of Nia DaCosta’s Candyman (2021) renews the themes of Bernard Rose’s original film from 1992 while also proposing that folklore and trauma, intrinsically linked, are both equal parts of an amorphous cultural identity. Rose’s film feels timely now and this latest retelling of the Clive Barker story exploits those elements, hammering home the theme of gentrification as cultural genocide.

What DaCosta’s Candyman lacks in political and social subtlety it makes up for with a distinct visual style. Production design and cinematography really come together to create spaces of mortal dread within environments lifted from the pages of Architectural Digest. Comparisons to early Argento and mid-career Mario Bava seem apt.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is excellent in bring the psychological deterioration of his painter character to the screen. His performance is exceedingly nuanced for this type of genre picture and a most welcome surprise. The trade off is that the audience has to make do with only a brief appearance by Tony Todd. In terms of concept I really loved how Candyman exists as a transitory identity connected to trauma but as a Tony Todd fan I really missed his voice and presence within the character.

Candyman is probably the most enjoyable and engaging of the films I’ve seen that Jordan Peele has had a hand in, including his films Us and Get Out. Candyman is, formally speaking, streamlined and pulpy, diverging from the high-concept narratives of Peele’s own films. This is just a matter of taste. Each of these films is essential for a number of reasons and it is impossible to deny that. To those who have rejected the new Candyman I would ask that they consider that, if nothing else, the ever relevant original from 1992 has simply been given a fresh lease on life and is broadcasting its message to an all new generation of film-goers.