CANDYMAN – Review by Lonita Cook

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You know his name. You dare not say it five times, lest you be on the sad end of his thrash-that-ass hook. Directed by power visionary Nia DaCosta, Candyman stars rising sensation Yahya Abdul Mateen II as Anthony McCoy, a painter struggling to put together his next gallery show only to find his work inspired by the legendary tale of the Candyman.

The movie opens with the making of a pariah. In 1977, there is a peripheral neighborhood figure that everyone knows, talks about but overlooks. He’s harmless, gentle even. The neighborhood weirdo who gives out candy to all the kids with a big suspicious smile on his face. Until some candy comes up with razors in it over yonder in the White neighborhoods. Just like that the neighborhood candy man becomes the target of a deadly police investigation.

A stain. Spilled blood that can never be mopped. That is the legacy of Cabrini-Green, the neighborhood where Candyman is born and where Anthony goes for his arts research. It is there, during the return to the beginning, that he becomes the art.

In his everyday life, Anthony is booed up with the gorgeous and brilliant young tender, Brianna (Teyonah Parris) and together they climb the ranks of a modern and hip art scene. But with one bite from a radioactive spider, er um, sting from a possessed-with-the-spirit-of-highly-protective-ancestors bee, Anthony can focus on nothing, but Candyman.

How many times have I said his name?

Full of character surprises, social commentary, those sought-after jump scares and lots of laughs, this is a genius script that honors the previous by mirroring the device used in the original “let me tell you a story” to explain the legend. Yet this time, it’s used to sum up the first film. So subtle and so smart. This is a proper sequel.

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Lonita Cook

A Kansas City-based film critic, Lonita is a member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), a voting member of the Black Reel Awards as well as board member at Kansas City Film Critics Circle. She contributes to KCTV5 (CBS), KS Women’s Lifestyle Magazine and She also cohosts flix + mix, an internet-based show festivising food, film and friendship. As a filmmaker and artist supporter she is the East Central KS Field Rep for Kansas Department of Commerce Creative Arts Industries Commission, Board Chair of the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Museum Foundation and she’s volunteered at festivals around the world, including 13 years at Sundance Film Festival. It is one of her great joys to be there when artist dreams come true! After recent completion of the Professional Producer’s Program out of the Theater, Film + Television School at UCLA, Lonita develops a deeper appreciation of creative producing and storytelling which she uses to inform her approach to criticism.