Candyman (1992)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Candyman</strong> (1992)

(In French, On Cable TV, February 2019) I remember some of the marketing for Candyman back in 1992, but for some reason had almost forgotten about the film until now. I’m almost glad I did, because it allowed me to discover something that, under the garbs of a horror movie, is quite a bit more than a standard supernatural slasher. In addition to a villain that almost qualifies as original, Candyman does delve quite a bit into themes of urban decay, social injustice and black mythology as presented through urban legends. From a gripping opening, the film develops a specific visual style made of overhead shots of Chicago slums, bee imagery and askew camera angles. When combined with the fantastic screen presence of Tony Todd as the titular boogeyman and a rather good turn by a young Virginia Madsen (plus Kasi Lemmons in a supporting role), Candyman is significantly more interesting than most horror films of the early 1990s. Unusual plot developments keep our attention, and the well-executed sense of alienation of a white woman plunged into urban black myth leads to an effective descent into hell. Writer/director Bernard Rose cleverly adapts a Clive Barker story to an American setting, throws narrative curveballs and manages an effective atmosphere of dread making judicious use of its slum setting. It’s a much better film than you’d expect from its era. My biggest (minor) qualms are not the film’s fault—I happen to think that 1990s Virginia Madsen doesn’t look as good as 2010s Madsen, and catching the film in French deprived me of Todd’s distinctive voice. All the better reasons to rewatch the film again at some point. Considering the renewed interest in black-themed horror with social relevance, Candyman seems almost perfectly placed for a remake and whaddaya know—one is being planned right now.

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