Quick-Thoughts, Again: Bernard Rose’s Candyman (1992)

Warning: Spoilers Ahead • 2nd Viewing

Candyman has actually grown on me this past year and a half, and I’ve also rewatched it in preparation for the reboot, which led me to appreciating it even more so. It’s quite the uncanny allegory for superiority complexes in class, specifically depicting the gap between privileged cultures and primarily black ones set in the projects, and how a young white lady goes from viewing an urban legend as a joke — an obvious representation to actual horrors that have happened or are happening to black people in America for which did or continue to go unnoticed / to be disregarded because of the social and psychological mindset of refusing to believe something that comes from a lower class than oneself — to being caught head first as a bystander in the physical heat of its terrors, witnessing a series of murders by this historically prevalent and ongoing killer, until it becomes so rooted in her own life that this mysterious boogeyman inhabits a near reversal of Chicago’s black trauma to that of the community that created it, murdering a white scientist character towards the third act, a man whose culture has a past deeply rooted in inhumane black exploitations for research, and murdering a husband by her own hands who is a part of the academic culture which is occasionally criticized for filtering out graphic knowledge of historical horrors. As industrializations continue, covering up the past more and more, the trauma of fallen victims are then passed on through a secondary means known as “urban lore”, a last attempt at keeping them fresh and us fearful for frolicking in what the very creation of Chicago itself started as. Because the war began, it forced us to never end it because of how it cheated out people of color. Our knowledge is so buried of this at times though, that absurd stories become the key leaders in forcing us to finally notice them, ones that are representative of truths in our immoral pasts that have come to harming all parties in a city now brimmed with crime, segregation, and denial because of it. Ahh…

Where my main criticism from my original review of Candyman was that the film was just a run-of-the-mill slasher plot starring your token “isolated” protagonist, reminding me a bit too much of flicks such as Child’s Play (1988) but coated with loose commentary which thinks it’s more cerebral than it actually is — a real s**t excuse for me just missing the point of the entire movie —, I now realize that it’s intentionally using these run-of-the-mill slasher clichés to slightly enhance that very formula with some intimacy, surpassing the value of a majority of its sub-genre. None of the main character’s colleagues in Candyman believe the stories she tells because humans dislike facing realities unless they’re forced into them literally, and that seems to be a core issue of why people have trouble sympathizing with any contrasting cultural struggles or historical ones that simply aren’t their own unless it becomes there’s, kind of like how Chicago’s glaring homicidal problems have become an issue for its entire population, some obviously more than others. It’s plying that corny “nobody believes the person who’s actually right” chestnut as a way to connect the audience to messages uncommon in this particular horror genre. Whether or not Candyman is real, he is an embodiment of violence in Chicago, a continuing result of rooted historical prejudice, something director and writer Bernard Rose seems to think isn’t acknowledged enough therefore harming the present with ignorance towards the core of crime in gang related affiliations, and how it all began and how myth has become the symbolic means of consoling it. Our main character basically gets “woke” — haha? — or whatever by accepting these hallucinatory visions of this figure that are however paralleled to the reality of ancient and modern transgressions, connecting her closer in relatability to a tragic story such as Candyman’s. He goes as far as to encourage her to embrace feelings of vengeance for how her life has transpired with the betrayal that’s occurred through means of eternal haunting, just as he had. Stories powerful enough can sometimes inspire that in people who now have nothing to lose, allowing the individual to make their own malicious methods to pave their tale, becoming immortal in the minds of the human race’s successors as some form of an inward-looking coping mechanism and as a vicious threat to never let their atrocities happen again. That is why fables are written in the first place, right? 

I must admit, I poorly interpreted this movie on my initial watch, because I’m now starting to recognize that a lot of the flaws I had with it at first are just subtle, plot-based pawns that are there to get its message across further, using genre trope stereotypes and transforming them into applicable substance for a simple yet admirable social statement. Roger Ebert said it best: “What I liked was a horror movie that was scaring me with ideas and gore, instead of simply with gore.” It’d furthermore be difficult for me to not recall just how solid some technicalities of the film still are to me as well, which is more than enough of a reason to give it a positive score this time. Philip F**KING Glass!!!

Verdict: C+ —> B

The Greatest Horror Movies Ever

“Candyman” is now available to stream on Peacock.

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