Both as a horror movie and as a continuation of its predecessor, Candyman is an absolute mess. Sure, the movie looks pretty; there’s no denying Nia DeCosta has a visual eye as a director. Yet the emptiness behind upside-down shots quickly wears off, leaving bare a horror movie devoid of any true scares and a story that somehow manages to feel both underdeveloped and overstuffed. Gentrification, police brutality, artistic integrity — Candyman is a movie that tries to tackle it all, and in its epic attempt to say everything, it comes close to saying nothing. It’s not enough to merely throw out buzzwords and spell out subtext word-for-word when the themes aren’t organically woven into the film’s plot. The same could also be said of how the movie expands on the mythology from the original Candyman. Taking the rich foundation it was dealt, the movie somehow manages to repeatedly twist itself in a bind, offering multiple explanations and plot twists that undermine each other at every turn. Maybe some details just went over my head, but at first blush everything feels needlessly complex — almost as if the movie is unsure of which direction it even wants to take.
I would be more forgiving if this effectively functioned as a horror movie, yet that simply isn’t the case here. Tension is a rare occurrence, and even when there is the occasionally uncomfortable moment, it can be attributed more to the film’s stellar sound design than any act of violence or subversion of expectation. Nothing is offered here in the set-piece department that wasn’t done better in the original — a fact that might as well be attributed to the whole movie. This is just a massive disappointment all around.