This summer, Jordan Peele’s much-anticipated fresh take on the blood-chilling urban legend, “Candyman,” will be unleashed on theater screens nationwide, under the direction of rising filmmaker Nia DaCosta (“Little Woods”). This contemporary incarnation of the cult classic is a direct sequel to the original 1992 film, which starred Tony Todd as the title character. Todd returns for this latest update.
Universal’s official synopsis for the film reads: “In present day, a decade after the last of the Cabrini towers were torn down, visual artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his girlfriend, gallery director Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris), move into a luxury loft condo in Cabrini, now gentrified beyond recognition and inhabited by upwardly mobile millennials. With Anthony’s painting career on the brink of stalling, a chance encounter with a Cabrini Green old-timer (Colman Domingo) exposes Anthony to the tragically horrific nature of the true story behind Candyman. Anxious to maintain his status in the Chicago art world, Anthony begins to explore these macabre details in his studio as fresh grist for paintings, unknowingly opening a door to a complex past that unravels his own sanity and unleashes a terrifyingly viral wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with destiny.”
Nathan Stewart-Jarrett rounds out the main cast, although no word on what role he plays. Like the original 1992 film, it appears that this “spiritual sequel,” as Peele has described it, will also tackle issues of race and class. Additionally, it hints at a possible direct connection between Anthony McCoy and the title character. Might his “destiny” be that he discovers he’s a descendant of Candyman, a famous black artist and son of slaves who pays a steep price for falling in love with a white man’s daughter?
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Details on the film have been kept mostly under wraps, which only served to amp up anticipation for it, especially given Peele’s resume (“Get Out,” “Us”). But during a panel at the 2019 Produced By Conference last summer, Monkeypaw Creative Director Ian Cooper dropped a few notes on the project, notably concerns they had on balancing expectations of diehard fans of the original while offering a fresh take.
“What we’re doing with ‘Candyman’ and how Jordan is crafting it on the page is going to be very exciting and rewarding to audiences that haven’t seen the original film as well as people who’ve seen the original film,” Cooper said. “In a broad sense of the word, this film will stand alone if you’ve never heard of a film called ‘Candyman’, and will dovetail in a pretty complicated and interesting way to the original.” Cooper didn’t detail how exactly he and Peele planned to bridge this gap, except to say that their version will be “mischievous in how we address the relationship to the first film, but also be very satisfying.”
Based on Clive Barker’s 1985 short story “The Forbidden,” the 1992 film’s setting alone — a public housing project — separated it from many of its slasher movie brethren. With more depth than your average slasher flick, “Candyman” was played by the physically imposing Todd, whose sonorous voice haunts long after the movie ends. Original director Bernard Rose relocated the story from Barker’s native Liverpool to the squalor of the now infamous Cabrini–Green projects in Chicago, where crime and neglect created deplorable living conditions for its residents.
It was an inspired decision that revised the original story’s classist undertones into explicitly racial ones. And given Peele’s well documented obsessions, it’s very likely that those undercurrents will all be tackled in the 2020 follow-up film. Directed by DaCosta, written by Peele and Win Roselfeld, Universal Pictures has scheduled “Candyman” for a release on June 12.
Check out the film’s first trailer below.