“Candyman,” the urban legend turned classic horror film, is getting a refreshing new take. With a screenplay co-written by Jordan Peele and directed by rising star Nia DaCosta, the bloodcurdling thriller digs into the salient contemporary themes in the myth’s origin story. The film features “Watchmen” star Yahya Abdul Mateen II as an artist living in Chicago who becomes obsessed with the story of the Candyman. An impressive new trailer ahead of its August release promises stellar performances, production values, and plenty of chilling gore.
Here’s the official synopsis from Universal:
“For as long as residents can remember, the housing projects of Chicago’s Cabrini Green neighborhood were terrorized by a word-of-mouth ghost story about a supernatural killer with a hook for a hand, easily summoned by those daring to repeat his name five times into a mirror. In present day, a decade after the last of the Cabrini towers were torn down, visual artist Anthony McCoy (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 terrifying wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with destiny.”
Peele has described this new riff as a “spiritual sequel” to the original 1992 “Candyman,” which was written and directed by Bernard Rose and based on a short story by Clive Barker. The film starred Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Vanessa Estelle Williams, and an early acting performance by “Harriet” filmmaker Kasi Lemmons. Both Todd and Williams reprise their roles in this update.
In a recent video interview released on Juneteenth, DaCosta drew several parallels between “Candyman” and real-world events, noting how horror can be used to analyze important social and cultural issues.
“In the real world, we create monsters of men all the time,” the director said. “People are murdered and they become either saints or they are vilified. So, throughout the last year and a half, it was always coming back to that truth. Horror is a really effective tool when it comes to telling stories about things that impact us on a social level. The very function of it is to make you uncomfortable and I think if that discomfort is attached to explorations of race or gender you have to then reconcile your feelings about race and gender.”
Universal Pictures will release “Candyman” in theaters on August 27. Check out the chilling trailer below.