Candyman is in a bit of a weird place because it’s hard to argue with the fact that it’s a classic, but at the same time, it certainly doesn’t loom as highly in people’s minds as your various Nightmares on Elm Street or Fridays the 13th. Still, with a great horror icon solidly played by Tony Todd, it’s a must-see for the devoted horror fan. Check out the trailer below and then continue on down for the review.
Reviewed by: Jack
The Candyman is a Bloody-Mary-esque legend told as a scary story around Chicago. Say his name five times into a mirror, the legend goes, and he will appear to you and kill you with his hook-hand. Our protagonist Helen is a graduate student doing a thesis on the folk-legend of the Candyman, and makes the poor decision to say his name in quintuplicate into a mirror. The candyman starts harassing her, and framing her for the brutal murders of various Chicagoans.
As the rest of the world thinks she’s a psycho killer (qu’est que c’est?), Helen learns that Candyman was the artist son of a former slave who was unfairly sawed in pieces with an old-timey lumberjack saw. He’s now back to seek his vengeance, and to make matters worse, Helen is the reincarnated spirit of Candyman’s soulmate, so he’s latched right the fuck onto her. Like may of us, Candyman comes on a little too strong, and opens up his chest to woo Helen, revealing a whole shitload of bees on his insides and coming all out of his mouth. And no, I didn’t say “beads”, I said said bees.
Eventually, the neighborhood builds an enormous pyre out of thing you’d find at a hoarder’s estate sale to finally do away with Candyman (I think? That part’s a little unclear), into which a baby accidentally finds its way. I know what you’re thinking, but this was a kidnapped by Candyman situation, not a Baby’s Day Out situation, common mistake. Helen manages to rescue the baby, but in so doing she commits to being Candyman’s paramour forever and ever and ever. Despite the bees, being Canyman’s paramour is not without its perks, as when her philandering ex-husband says her name five times into a mirror and she gets to eviscerate him once and for all. But was it worth the bees? No. It was not.
What the Movie Does Right
This movie earns its spot as a classic. It’s got a pretty good story from the 10,000 ft view level, and Tony Todd fucking kills it as the Candyman, one of the last great genuine horror icons. Add to that, the practical effects are, for the most part, pretty great. While it’s true that the level of blood and gore aren’t totally commensurate with the injuries the Candyman imparts (he pokes them with a hook and they explode in a torrent of blood and dismemberment), the kills all look pretty damn good. Plus Tony Todd actually let them cover him and FILL HIS MOUTH WITH BEES. Even Nick Cage isn’t crazy enough to pretend that’s not a nightmare.
The movie can also boast some legitimately frightening scenarios complemented with well paced jump scares. Is everything perfect? No, but it is overall a pretty immersive flick.
What the Movie Does Wrong
Speaking of not perfect, the movie does have its issues. While conceptually pretty cool, the plot on a boots on the ground granular level works a lot less well. Also, like I mentioned above, the effects look good, but they in no way match up the the injuries from which they’re supposed to be generated. It’s distracting, and one of the things that pulls you out of the movie. Another thing that’s distracting is, apart from the main character and Tony Todd, the acting is pretty bad. Helen’s husband in particular, is terribly acted.
Story: 7 - Again, this movie has really cool plot from a high level. The pacing and script were also above average. It’s certainly far from perfect, but worthy of a relatively high score.
World-Building / Immersion: 6 - There are definitely things that will pull you out of this movie, but they are pretty infrequent, and for the rest of the ride, you’ll be pretty goddamned engrossed.
Scare-Factor: 7 - This movie does what way more horror movies should do and mixes conceptually frightening concepts with good gore and infrequent jump scares. It’s an effective combo, and maybe it’s because I was 7 when I first saw this, but this is just a pretty scary movie.
Effects (or Judicious Lack Thereof): 5 - I don’t have too much more to add here other than what I wrote above: the effects look good, but they don’t match up with what’s actually happening.
Overall: 7 - This is a quality horror movie. I would honestly much rather watch this than either Friday the 13th or Halloween. It is that good. Why it doesn’t get its due, I may never figure out, but if you haven’t seen this one yet, you absolutely should.