“The Legend of Candyman” had everything going for it. Good protagonists, a promising young director and production and script featuring the ever-exciting Jordan Peele (“Run!”).
But, bumping into an unsteady pace that delivers more tension than terror, the film fails to live up to its promise with some good ideas that never materialize.
The direct continuation of the cult classic from 1992, which ignores the other two sequels to update the story of the vengeful spirit in a time of gentrification, premieres this Thursday (26) in Brazilian cinemas.
‘The Legend of Candyman’, new horror written by Jordan Peele, wins trailer; WATCH
In “The Legend of Candyman,” a promising painter struggles to stay relevant. To do this, he looks for inspiration in the title’s urban legend, about a supernatural assassin who appears to anyone who speaks his name five times in front of a mirror.
The idea is to explore and debate themes present in the original, such as racial tensions in urban centers and police brutalization, while bringing the story into more current discussions of gentrification and exploitation of the body and art of African Americans.
Unfortunately, the screenplay by Peele, Win Rosenfeld, and director Nia DaCosta (“Passing the Lines”) seems to miss two rules.
The first, one of the fundamentals of screenwriters, asks stories to show, not tell. Whenever the film comes close to hitting, some character gets lost in stilted and unnatural lines, which sink the narrative into unnecessary didacticism.
The second is more related to the genre that “The Legend of Candyman” seeks to belong to. Blood and tension are welcome in horror, but without real, palpable danger, it’s difficult for audiences to identify with the characters’ fears.
Before long, however much the protagonist enters a spiral that will lead to an inevitable end, those who orbit him are clearly safe.
Rodney L Jones III in scene from ‘The Legend of Candyman’ — Photo: Publicity
To make matters worse, the plot doesn’t give enough material for the good cast to shine through. The casting of Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Watchmen”), one of the emerging big names of the current Hollywood generation, is lost in a role that doesn’t take advantage of his abilities.
The same can be said of Teyonah Parris (“Wandavision”). As much as the film gradually elevates the importance of the actress’ character, the narrative fragments that enrich her seem like vestiges of some other draft of the story – one that would be even more interesting.
Not to mention the sin of submitting Colman Domingo (“Euphoria”) to the ridiculous role of an expendable narrator, ironically the only representative of the ancient pre-gentrification community that the script so much wants to discuss.
Speaking like that, it seems that “The Legend of Candyman” is a failure. It’s not the case.
The film unfortunately suffers because of the expectations generated by its own team – a kind of reflection of the victims of the story, incredulous at the materialization of a murderer speaking his name in front of the mirror.
While some may not believe the legend’s promise is true, the production is blindly confident that it will succeed simply by randomly gathering large ingredients. Like magic.
Scene from ‘The Legend of Candyman’ — Photo: Publicity