Candyman: 5 reasons why it's a must-watch on the big screen

Candyman hits Cineworld cinemas from 27th August, and dares you to say his name five times into the mirror. This "spiritual sequel" to the original 1992 horror picks up with Chicago artist Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) who makes the mistake of summoning ancient evil via his latest art installation.

Scroll down to discover why it's essential viewing this Bank Holiday weekend.


1. It establishes strong continuity with the classic original

Never seen the original Candyman? Don't worry – a pithy summary of the previous film's events takes place early on. More than just a quick wrap-up, however, it sets everything in motion, pertaining especially to the character of Anthony and his increasingly twisted relationship with the Candyman myth. The urban legend is also treated to a new backstory – as  Cabrini Green laundromat owner Burke (Colman Domingo) explains to Anthony, Candyman isn't to be regarded as a single entity, but "the whole damn hive". As with the original film, the figurative and metaphorical underpinnings of Candyman are held up as as a disturbing and provocative mirror to present-day concerns.

2. Nia DaCosta directs with confidence

In what is just her second feature film, DaCosta (perhaps best known for the acclaimed TV series Top Boy) proves herself to be a filmmaker with style to spare. Beginning with a credits sequence that inverts the Chicago skyline, DaCosta establishes a sleek, polished and elegant world of art galleries, glass apartments and mirrors, which has the potential to teem with all manner of evil. 

3. The performances are affecting

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (The Trial of the Chicago 7) has a tricky job in portraying Anthony, assaying an ambitious young artist who's keen for another hit. To that end, he appropriates the Candyman myth with his 'Say My Name' installation, and subsequently lets his egotism run away with him (Anthony's reaction to the mysterious death of a snooty white art dealer next to his installation is priceless, and darkly funny). It's not an entirely sympathetic performance, but it invites pathos as Anthony's history with Candyman catches up with him.

Matching Abdul-Mateen II beat for beat is Teyonah Parris (If Beale Street Could Talk), playing Anthony's equally ambitious gallerist girlfriend Brianna. As their relationship becomes strained by apparent supernatural events, it grounds the terror in something recognisably human.


4. Jordan Peele's finger prints are all over the script

The Oscar-winning filmmaker behind Get Out and Us is, by now, infamous for his satirical skewering of white privilege. Peele (who produces the movie via his Monkeypaw productions label) co-writes the script for Candyman along with DaCosta and Win Rosenfeld (executive producer on Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman), and it doesn't disappoint, particularly in the rendering of the secondary characters. One of the strongest scenes involves a conversation between Anthony and critic Finley Stephens (Rebecca Spence), which gets to the heart of the hypocrisy of gentrification, and the notion of the artist as an exploitative force. To say more would be to spoil it – suffice to say, horror fans will recognise Peele's imprimatur immediately.

5. It scares without the need for jump scares

Forget the ghost train mentality that has blighted so many horror films in recent years. Candyman is largely devoid of aggressive soind effects, allowing spooky and mysterious sights like a mysterious figure emerging through a gap in a wall to resonate with blood-curdling terror. The movie channels a sense of the uncanny, rather than looking to obliterate your ear drums, and it's the topicality of the story that really chills the blood. It's horror rooted in elemental human weakness, which aims to scare and intrigue in equal measure. Dare you say his name five times?


Are you brave enough? Then click here to book your tickets for Candyman, which opens in Cineworld on 27th August.