Candyman: everything we know about Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele’s horror film

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Candyman, at the intersection of white violence and black pain, is about unwilling martyrs,” says director Nia DaCosta.  

Updated on 23 June 2020: Every horror fan worth their salt will remember the original Candyman film.

Based on a short story by Clive Barker, the 1992 movie follows Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) as she collects urban legends for her sociology project. It’s through this research that she stumbles across the story of a mythical serial killer named Candyman.

Lyle, keen to learn more, visits Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing projects, where she’s met with hostility and distrust by the residents who tell her more stories about “the ghost of an artist and the son of a slave”. While there are some differences to the tales, all agree on one thing: Candyman can be summoned by saying his name five times while facing a mirror – whereupon he will promptly kill the summoner with a hook jammed on the bloody stump of his right arm.

To be honest, even if you haven’t seen the OG film, you can probably guess what happens next. Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candym… and, yup, a whole lot of murder.

The horror film grossed $25 million domestically, and has gone down in history as one of the best slasher movies of all time. However, it is not without its controversies. Indeed, many have claimed that, in setting the undead son of a former slave on a white woman, the OG Candyman played into some deeply disturbing racial stereotypes.

In  September 2020, though, viewers will see a whole new side to Candyman in its star-studded “spiritual sequel”.

And, this week, director Nia DaCosta shared a very special teaser, done in a beautiful papercraft style, that explores the origin of the film’s mythical killer and the racist killings the story grapples with.

“Candyman, at the intersection of white violence and black pain, is about unwilling martyrs,” she wrote alongside the clip.

“The people they were, the symbols we turn them into, the monsters we are told they must have been.”

Check it out:

Of course, there’s more to this trailer than first meets the eye.

The figure at the centre of this trailer is an artist who has dedicated his life’s work to honouring black people after white people have murdered them. In the short film, we take a closer look at some of the stories behind his work, including a black man who, after moving into a white neighborhood, is dragged to death behind a pickup truck. This vignette, notes, is based on the 1998 lynching of James Byrd Jr.

The trailer also draws inspiration from the 1944 execution of 14-year-old George Stinney Jr, who “confessed” to murder after being interrogated privately by white police officers, and sentenced to death by an all-white jury in proceedings that lasted only a day.

Elsewhere, we see a deformed factory worker pursued and beaten to death by police after he is spotted handing free candy samples to children. Then we have, of course, the story of Candyman himself: a black artist falls in love with the white woman he’s been hired to paint, a whirlwind romance, a pregnancy, and a horrific lynching.

As reported in February 2020: what are people saying about the new Candyman film?

You will have undoubtedly seen headlines about “Jordan Peele’s Candyman” everywhere. People are saying the trailer alone “will kill you several times over” – and that it “might just be the scariest movie ever made”.

Of course, it’s too early to know if they’re right. We do, however, know that they’re very wrong about one major detail: Peele is not the director of this movie.

“This is Nia DaCosta,” tweeted one person on Twitter. “She is the director of Candyman. Jordan Peele is not the director of Candyman. He is a writer and producer for Candyman. Thanks for your time.”

Exactly. While Peele – who brought us such gems as Get Out and Us – is the producer and writer of Candyman, DaCosta is the breakout star who directed it. And so, to paraphrase Destiny’s Child, it’s time to “say her name, say her name”, because we don’t want to see all her hard work go unnoticed.

Plus, if you do so on social media, it works to brilliant effect.

Check it out:

It’s worth noting that DaCosta helmed two recent episodes of Top Boy, a drama series about a pair of drug dealers operating out of a housing estate in East London, and made her feature directorial debut with Little Woods. And, yes, she received acclaim for both projects, so trust us when we say that your horror needs are in very safe hands.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, here’s everything else you need to know about Candyman 2020.

You’re welcome.

What’s the new Candyman film about?

We don’t know all that much, to be honest. We know it’s a direct sequel to the OG film, and that it will take us back to the now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood where the legend began. We also know that we will follow an artist named Anthony (Yahya Abdul Mateen II) – aka the same baby that survived the Candyman’s rampage back in 1992.

It has been suggested that Anthony’s role is a little more complex than that of traumatised one-time victim, though, because, when he looks in the mirror, he sees a hallucinatory reflection of Candyman’s ghost. Could it be that the hook-handed killer is living through the artist in some way?

Is it really about toxic fandom?

Ah, you noticed that too? Well, Ian Cooper, the creative director of Peele’s production company, has actually stated that the Candyman sequel will be self-aware in addressing toxic fandom.

“What we’re trying to do with Candyman is both be mischievous in how we address the relationship to the first film, but also be very satisfying,” he said.

Consider us intrigued.

Who stars in the new Candyman film?

Alongside Abdul-Mateen II, we have Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Colman Domingo, with Tony Todd and Vanessa A. Williams reprising their roles as the film’s eponymous character and Anne-Marie McCoy respectively.

Is there a trailer for the new Candyman film?

You better believe there is, and it’s CHILLING.

Fair warning, though: if you watch this, you’ll never be able to listen to Destiny’s Child song Say My Name in the same way again.

When will the new Candyman hit cinemas?

The Candyman reboot will be in cinemas this summer, with a slated release of 12 June 2020. 

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Images: Monkeypaw Productions

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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