Candyman ★★★

Oh boy, I wish the screenplay was as good as the direction, because then “Candyman” would be a strong contender for the best horror film of the year. Yet the way it is, I can´t help but be a bit disappointed.

Let´s start with the positive aspects. Those definitely include the superb camerawork, haunting score, eerie atmosphere, and well-crafted kills that focus more on the buildup of suspense and interesting camera angles than explicit gore effects (sometimes I would have liked to see more of them, though). The performances are solid as well, though I doubt that they will become as iconic as Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd. The portrayal of the pretentious art world setting is rather cliché, but I like the meta-commentary on the role that art plays in overcoming trauma and articulating anger, fear, and protest. And the several nods to the original film are simply nice treats for the fans.

Yet I have several problems with the script. While in the original film the political commentary came in form of subtle subtext that fitted naturally in the story, the new “Candyman” spells out its themes in big letters with no subtlety at all, and often through clunky dialogue. The even bigger problem is that the movie doesn´t flesh these themes out enough for them to have the intended impact. The film is overstuffed and messy, and there are just too many ideas and too little time or structure to do them justice. And then the film simply ends at some point, making me think “So, that was it, huh?”. A longer runtime, better structure, and more nuanced and focused screenplay would have helped the film a lot.

I don´t want to sound too negative. “Candyman” is a competently directed and visually enthralling supernatural slasher that at least tries to say something. I appreciate that yet I feel it had the potential to be an even better movie.

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