So, my October Horror Movie Challenge has now entered its third month, for reasons.
I watched the original 1992 Candyman the other week just to remind me of the titular character's backstory, little realising that this year's Candyman would actually turn out to be a direct sequel to that.
Not only does Nia DaCosta's film frequently reference the earlier flick, but it also subtly expands the established mythology and, ultimately, acts as a fresh origin story for the supernatural slayer kept 'alive' through urban legends.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, of Watchmen and Aquaman fame, is up-and-coming artist Anthony McCoy seeking inspiration for his next project from the brutal history of the Chicago community in which he lives, the increasingly-gentrified neighbourhood of Cabrini-Green.
His imagination is taken by a story spun by Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, from Misfits), the brother of his girlfriend, art curator Brianna Cartwright (WandaVision and Mad Men's Teyonah Parris), about white graduate student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), who went on a killing spree in the area in the early '90s.
Digging deeper into this tale, McCoy learns that Lyle was chasing after the myth of the Candyman, a murderous hook-handed ghost that supposedly haunts the neighbourhood and can be summoned by saying his name five times in a mirror.
The more McCoy delves into the myth of Candyman, the more people around him fall victim to violent crime and the artist himself finds his body decaying as what starts as an innocent bee sting slowly rots away his flesh.
With a script by director Nia DaCosta and producers Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld, this latest Candyman is a modern reworking of the classic monster movie formula that manages to be simultaneously layered and straight-forward.
It's also one of the most creatively shot horror movies of recent time, with DaCosta not shying aware from blood and gore but often capturing the "kills" from unique perspectives that heighten the horror without glorifying the violence.
There's no requirement to know the '90s Candyman movie at all, as this one tells you everything you need to know to become invested in the contemporary story, but there are a few Easter Eggs that will delight fans of the original.
The blending of modern art, racial tension, and urban myths with a top tier cast and sublime script makes Candyman a powerful and engaging work that builds on the foundation of the first film, creating something new and important that could launch its own franchise but stands alone perfectly well.
Not only is Candyman the best 'new to me' entry in this year's on-going October Horror Movie Challenge, but it's also one of my favourite movies of the 2021.
- Candyman was released on Blu-Ray in the UK this week.
FILMS WATCHED: 28
NEW TO ME: 23