The juxtaposition of horrifying and heartbreaking is something I gravitate toward—I love a horror movie that can make me feel something for the characters outside of fear. Add that to my appreciation of revitalizing beloved franchises (controversial opinion, I know) and Candyman feels right up my alley.
The upcoming Candyman, directed by Nia DaCosta, is a spiritual sequel to the 1992 original by Bernard Rose. It brings the audience right back to the Cabrini Green neighborhood of Chicago, though gentrification has turned it into a millennial hub and the tale of the Candyman has disappeared alongside the old Cabrini Towers. Of course, the Candyman won’t stay dormant for long, especially not after Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) moves in with his girlfriend, Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris). You’ll remember Anthony as the child Helen gave her life for in the original film, and now, as an artist reconnecting to his hometown, he becomes the spark that turns the Candyman from whispered myth to vicious killer.
The first trailer for Candyman dropped in February and it’s chock full of clever shots, incredible acting, and beautiful sets. A slow cover of “Say My Name” echoes underneath the rest of the audio throughout and I have to say, if haunting renditions of iconic songs by Black artists becomes a Monkey’s Paw signature (did I mention this was co-produced and co-written by Jordan Peele?), I’m not complaining. Remembering that mix of “I Got 5 On It” in Us still gives me chills.
Current fans of the franchise will be as pleased as I am to know that the racial elements at play in Rose’s production are only being amplified and given more care with DaCosta at the helm. The Candyman’s racial identity is not incidental to him being who he is and DaCosta is not shying away from that, clearly, in both the trailer and the puppet teaser.
I haven’t even gotten into the puppet teaser trailer yet. It was first released by DaCosta in full on Twitter. Everything from the audio—there is no sound in the video aside from another chilling remix, this time of “Helen’s Theme” from the 1992 film—to the five central narratives at play to the puppets themselves filled me with such a guttural sense of anguish that I had trouble re-watching it for this article. The original, embedded in DaCosta’s tweet, is below.
But the new teaser, dropped by Universal Pictures at the end of June, makes it clear that the video above isn’t the last time we’ll see those puppets. Throughout the original, alongside portraits of the film’s four main focuses (presumably being painted by Anthony, as he lets the Candyman consume his work), there are other portraits, ones we don’t receive extended histories on. The majority of these, based on genuine historical cases of Black people murdered in racist crimes, are stand-ins for the audience to understand that Candyman, and The Candyman, are not about just one figure. There are countless others whose backstories will unfold, it seems, throughout the film, as the puppetry makes a comeback in the actual runtime itself. An exciting mix of previously released and brand-new footage, the new teaser for Candyman gives just enough to make you want to see more.
Of course, with the state of theaters right now, the original release date feels a little ambitious, and has already been pushed back. But for now, at least, the movie has avoided being slated for a digital release and is set to hit theaters in October.