Produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) and directed by Nia DaCosta (Little Woods), a new vision of Candyman will be released on June 12. The film takes a modern look at the 1992 Bernard Rose film which was about the brutally murdered son of a slave who appears when you say his name into a mirror five times. This time, it’s about an artist (Watchmen’s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) who moves to Chicago to explore Candyman’s mythology.
In this first trailer, you see a ton of DNA from that original film as well as a modern spin that sure makes it look like both a sequel and a reboot. Take a look and then see what Peele and DaCosta had to say about the film when Gizmodo spoke with them this week.
(Twitter link just in case) As you can tell, this new Candyman is aiming to blend the social issues presented by the scenario while also being a scary horror film. Very much the Peele model, which DaCosta appreciated.
“What was useful about working with Jordan is that he’s so good at bringing the social issues to the forefront in genre, especially horror,” DaCosta told the gathered journalists. “So that was already something that I knew was gonna happen. But the original Candyman also does that really well. What we were able to do, because 30 years has passed and because there’s been so much change [in the] neighbourhood, in particular, gentrification, was really dig into the themes that were already there.”
“Gentrification in our film is what helped us to reimagine the story because Cabrini Green is gone,” DaCosta said about housing projects that act as the setting of the original film as well as the new one. “The movie from the ‘90s has a vision of Cabrini Green where it’s sort of on its way to being knocked down…So what we do in our film is talk about the ghosts that are left behind because of gentrification, in particular in Cabrini Green, and that’s how we find our way into the reimagining.”
The word “reimagining” kept coming up because no one was willing to confirm if Tony Todd would reprise his role in the film, which would make it a simultaneous sequel and reboot. “I really love Tony Todd,” DaCosta said. “He’s iconic. And I will say what we’ve done in this film is great…and I don’t want to give anything away.”
What the director was willing to give away is that, unlike some of Peele’s films, Candyman will be exceedingly gory (“There are a good amount of things you don’t want to see,” she teased) and that it’ll harken back to the terror the original film brought her.
“The first thing I remember about Candyman was being dared to say his name in the bathroom at my middle school, which was right next to the projects,” DaCosta said. “And so the first thing I really remember is feeling like Candyman was absolutely real. That he was definitely in the projects and could be anywhere, including my bathroom at middle school because you say his name and he appears.”
“And then also Tony Todd being that dude,” she continued. “That was huge for us to have a black, anti-hero, villain. Just a black person in general who at least made it to the end of the film. It was really, really important. So that’s really what I remember as opposed to my sheer terror watching the film.”
Peele echoed those sentiments with his thoughts on the film.
“My connection with Candyman is pretty simple,” Peele added. “It was one of the few movies that explored any aspect of the black experience in the horror genre in the ‘90s when I was growing up in that moment. And so it was a perfect example, an iconic example to me, of representation in the genre. And a movie that inspired me. We have a reimagining of this story that we’re very excited about.”
And yet, while there are plenty of ways audiences will be able to read and interpret Candyman, that’s not the only thing DaCosta and Peele want audiences to take from it.
“So we talked a lot about all those things and also just the fun of the original film,” she said. “That was a huge part of what I wanted to bring back because it’s great to talk about these things, but it is a horror film after all. We also want to do what the original film did, which is be audacious, be fun, but also be meaningful.”
You don’t have to say his name five times because Candyman—which also stars Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and Colman Domingo—will appear in theatres in the U.S. on June 12. It does not currently have an Australian release.