Anticipation: 3/5 A few friends and I thought a horror film night was on the cards given that Halloween is just around the corner, so we pooled together a few films and started picking our favourites. I hadn’t heard of Clive Barker’s Candyman before. It came recommended from a friend, and quickly inspired interest from the group. Not being a horror connoisseur, I knew I would enjoy the film watching experience, as for the film itself, I imagined a typical early 90’s slasher with some minor plot holes sprinkled with some shaky casting. However, none of this mattered because it was a film fright night and I’m a coward.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5 With an interesting folklore legend context and plenty of nail biting gore scenes, Candyman is certainly a film to be considered for this Halloween. Entertaining.
Candyman (Tony Todd) is a seemingly tragic mythological legend which is brought to reality when his name is uttered five times in a mirror. He has a bloody hook for a hand and reaps murderous revenge whenever he appears. Skeptical grad students Helen (Virginia Madsen) and Bernadette (Kasi Lemmons) accidentally beckon Candyman as they research the theory behind the legend.
Candyman is almost everything you would want in a horror film. You have the spooky yet intriguing backstory, the unprepared college students and enough nasty death scenes you can shake a hook at. If you are looking for a jump this Halloween, then this is definitely the film to do it, at least for the first half hour or so. Now, what makes an effective horror flick to me is not all the blood and gore (although it helps), it’s often what you aren’t shown and the suspense that builds. So, it’s disappointing that director Bernard Rose chose to reveal Candyman’s face earlier than I would expect from a horror film. Once revealed, the Candyman’s strange and spooky mystique is somewhat diluted. I guess that’s what makes Halloween’s character Michael Myers so terrifying; the blank white mask and the “unknown” pushes the audience to fill in the gaps with their imagination. Unfortunately, Candyman loses that important element, which, if included, would have made this a truly excellent horror film.
However, there are plenty of reasons to watch this film. The setting for instance, is Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project and that urban location adds a unique component to the movie. Horror films tend to rely heavily on that secluded rundown house in the woods, so it’s refreshing to see a film take all the essential pieces of an effective location and place it in a more populated urban environment, making a neglected city estate an effective ‘new’ shack in the woods. While Tony Todd commands the screen with his strong physique and booming voice, it was Virginia Madsen who turned my anticipation of questionable acting over on its head by giving an immersive performance.
Candyman isn’t afraid to consider important issues such as racism and poverty that certainly highlight real-life subjects of the early 1990’s, which is also relevant and poignant today. The film comprises just the right amount of horror to make you afraid of your bathroom mirror for a few weeks. With enough blood to make Freddy Krueger wince, Candyman should top your Halloween fright night list.
What did you think of Candyman? Is it a classic horror film? Sound off in the comment section below!