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Movie Trailer Breakdown: ‘Candyman’

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Jordan Peele, horror-movie and comedy extraordinaire, is returning to strike edge-of-your-seat fear and thought-provoking awe into the hearts of moviegoers nationwide. After the successes of “Get Out” and “Us,” Peele (as co-producer and writer) has partnered with rising-star director Nia DaCosta for the upcoming motion picture “Candyman.” The film figures to be somewhat of a departure from Peele’s first two hits: “Candyman” is a reinterpretation of the 1992 horror film of the same name. That iteration of “Candyman” drew criticism for its troublesome treatment of race. Now, almost 30 years later, DaCosta and Peele have set out to give their own telling of the story. While the coronavirus pandemic has postponed the film’s release to September, the “Candyman” trailer offers clues as to how this iteration will play out.

This debut trailer gives viewers much to digest in just over two minutes. It first lays out the basics: a refresher for those who know the original and background for those who do not. It opens as a man named Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), dressed in a red beanie and grey t-shirt, tells the ominous legend of Candyman: “If you say his name five times looking in the mirror, he appears in the reflection and kills you.” The trailer cuts to a group of schoolgirls repeating “Candyman” into the school-bathroom mirror. Nothing happens for a moment, and the teenagers breathe a sigh of relief. This feeling is premature, however, as a flourish of camera angles and chilling sounds follow. Afterwards, the only thing left is a makeup mirror, covered with blood and bees. In the edge of the mirror, we can barely make out the reflection of a figure with a bloodied yellow coat and a hook arm.

Suddenly, the trailer turns on its head and gives a glimpse into the undercurrents that drive the film. The setting, viewers learn, is Cabrini-Green: “It was a projects,” Anthony says. Anthony –– who is apparently a painter and photographer new to the area –– comes across an old church and compares it to an old, grainy photo. The church, once exposed dark brick, is now painted white –– a not-too-subtle visual signal that Cabrini-Green has been gentrified. The artist soon sees and hears about the dreaded Candyman, graffitied on walls and etched in the minds of older residents.

Anthony becomes obsessed with Candyman and creates an entire art exhibition devoted to the figure, full of paintings and mirrored exhibits. The trailer jumps around: Anthony dares visitors to say “Candyman,” and people oblige. One woman –– perhaps out of context, but presciently –– warns, “Don’t say that.”

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What comes next isn’t clear –– it’s obvious, though, that things turn very bad. In the closed art exhibition, an invisible force with a man’s reflection drags, lifts, and attacks visitors. In the next cut, Anthony gazes into the mirror and gasps as he sees what can only be Candyman –– yellow coat, hook arm, bees, and all – staring back. “I brought him back,” Anthony professes. Soon, he exchanges the red beanie and t-shirt for a painter’s disheveled garb. Next, Anthony screams in seemingly mental agony. As a booming voice (presumably Candyman) proclaims, “I am the writing on the wall,” the trailer races through scenes with plenty of fear, death, and gore. The art museum, the local laundromat, the abandoned church –– it seems nothing is left untouched by Candyman. All the while, an ominous-sounding remix of “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child provides the pulsating soundtrack.

In the trailer’s final seconds, a young boy walks to a bathroom, only to find a body blocking the door. Peering nervously through a small gap in the door and into the bathroom mirror, he recoils at the sight of blood, bees, and a hook reaching around the bathtub curtain. Here, the trailer ends, leaving the viewer with plenty of unanswered questions. What is Candyman’s story? What does “I am the writing on the wall” imply? Why does Anthony see himself as Candyman in the mirror –– does it hold a literal and metaphorical meaning? Only by peering nervously at the screen will we find the answers. It’s clear that “Candyman” promises much more gore, thought-provoking commentary, and many more scares.

The “Candyman” trailer can be seen here.

— Staff writer Alexander W. Tam can be reached at alexander.tam@thecrimson.com.

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