candyman | bernard rose | virginia madsen | xander berkeley | tony todd | thriller | united states | united kingdom | murder | death | slasher | kasi lemmons | vanessa williams | ted raimi | dejuan guy | urban legend | based on | novel | clive barker
Director: Bernard Rose
Writer: Bernard Rose
Starring: Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley and Tony Todd
Now this is my third time viewing this film all the way through, with the last one in my local theater. I actually used to watch the sequel more as it was on one of the movie channels. I do believe I caught part of it in college during the summer or FrightFest on AMC. The official synopsis is The Candyman, a murderous soul with a hook for a hand, is accidentally summoned to reality by a skeptic grad student researching the monster’s myth.
I have to say that I really like this one. This film does seem to fall into the supernatural slasher category for me. This brings a bit of A Nightmare in Elm Street, in that Candyman (Tony Todd) is much like Freddy Kruger in he needs the fear of those around him to survive. What I like even more though is that this film could almost be viewed that Candyman might not be real. No one ever sees him until they are murdered, so that could be that Helen (Virginia Madsen) is actually doing the killing. We see her slipping into madness and blacking out, two things that could point to her actually being the killer. The ending might need to be disregarded for this reading, but as a horror film, it comes with the genre. I think the story is great that it can be read as a supernatural killer or a woman with a psychotic break.
Something else I really liked about the film is the racial issue that it brings up. Now I’ll admit, I’ve never been to Chicago, but it doesn’t feel like we are really there. What the film does well with the setting is showing us two different worlds. We have Helen and Bernadette (Kasi Lemmons). They are graduate students doing research. There are two women who live in the projects who work at the college, but it is much cleaner. The condo that Helen lives in is similar to Cabrini Green, where Candyman reigns, but it's much nicer. We get the complete duality though when we actually go there. Going even farther, the police show up much faster when something happens to Helen.
While watching the film this time, I was trying to see if there is anything that I would cut from it. There were a few scenes I thought weren’t needed, but then something happens and I realize that it really does. It comes in at around 100 minutes and it really doesn’t feel like it. The pacing builds tension to the climax. There are just a few things that I think could have been altered story-wise that could have helped. I wasn’t a big fan of the very last sequences to be honest though. Something else it does really well is giving the film a surreal feel, which fits for what they needed.
The acting in this film is really good which I think helps it a lot. Madsen is amazing in her role. She is so sure and in control of herself in the beginning. The moment she meets Candyman though, she loses that and we see her slowly slipping into madness. Something that goes with it, she is pushed to try to prove she isn’t crazy and the lengths she goes is believable. Todd doesn’t get a lot of screen time until about the middle of the film, but his screen presence is great. He is perfect for this role. Xander Berkeley is Trevor and from the beginning makes you wonder about his commitment to Helen and if he is telling the truth. She accuses him multiple times of being unfaithful so we see the start of her losing her grip, bringing in if she is reading into things or not early into the film. I also thought that Lemmons, Vanessa Williams and DeJuan Guy were solid in their supporting roles as well.
Now I have to say that the effects in this film were good. Everything looked to be practical which if you know me, I love. The blood looked good. I thought the hook and Todd’s chest looked real. The bees that cover him and Madsen were real, which is not only creepy, but great.
I also thought the score to the film was great. The score is much more gothic which keeps the project an even creepier feel, matching it almost to the castles of Europe in a way. I love the choir used for the film and there is one recurring tune that is quite haunting. It is actually one I listen to on a regular basis.
Now with that said, I would recommend this film. It is a supernatural slasher film, but I feel it is much more than that. I feel it could almost be read as a woman who is losing her mind, murdering people yet believing it is a man who is haunting her with visions. The acting of the film is good, which helps to build this feeling. The effects of the film were also well done. The editing and the score also helped for this film to have not only a creepy, but a surreal feel. Candyman is a solid entry into the horror genre, putting him comparable to Freddy Krueger in that the fears in those around him are needed to survive. This is a really good film and worth a viewing. One of the best from the 90’s for sure.
My Rating: 9 out of 10