Mirroring the arc from the original, where the lead character is terrorized by Candyman because she’s using his legend for her own personal gain, is really all DaCosta’s Candyman needs to do. Coupled with Mateen’s unhinged performance and a classic horror score by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, the film moves effectively through a physical and mental decompensation plot while also bringing up of-the-moment debates about gentrification and the exploitation of Black trauma. However, Candyman’s third act leaves this behind as the film tries to reclassify Candyman’s purpose and introduces lore that might have been in subpar sequels but was not in the original. DaCosta’s shift is not as interesting as the original imagining. The film also indulges in throwaway massacre scenes that add nothing to the plot beyond a satisfaction of audience bloodlust, a cheap scrap thrown from a film that wasn’t otherwise operating on that level. Candyman both surrenders to baser instincts and attempts to become something it wasn’t. Both areas of the film are failures, one of ambition and the other of underestimation.
Candyman overcomplicates something that should’ve been an easy layup. The frustration in its last thirty minutes does get lessened when considering how strong the film’s first hour is. Viewer expectation can be a tricky thing, especially when what’s being presented is exactly what’s wanted. The transition to something else is just too quick and doesn’t mesh with what’s come first. Mateen and Parris are movie stars, Domingo is going to win a Supporting Actor Oscar someday soon, and DaCosta has a bright career ahead of her. Candyman is mostly worthy of their efforts, until it suddenly isn’t. B-