“Do I believe in the Candyman? I believe in the myth.”
Candyman rocks. It’s a classic, through and through. Fine storytelling, depth, great acting, and a stunning score. It was well received by critics and audiences alike, and made some good bank at the theatre. A sequel was inevitable. Unfortunately.
Candyman 2 should have been been great. I’ll be vague here in an effort to protect those that haven’t seen the original, but shouldn’t Candyman 2 have been Candywoman? I mean, the first film sets things up perfectly. I assume Virginia Madsen wasn’t interested, or, more likely, this production was a rush job with the sole purpose of replicating the original. I love the New Orleans location – it’s gorgeous, and suggests that the same sort of intellectual themes present in the first film would be present here; unfortunately, they’re not beyond surface level nods. If the first film was largely about myth and storytelling, this one goes the route of a sins of the father tale, but everything feels muddled and without focus. It feels like a cheaper knockoff in almost every way. It’s not terrible, but still a precipitous step down from the original.
The good? Well, as I said, the New Orleans location is gorgeous, and the film has a wonderful, urban Gothic look to it; there’s some excellent cinematography and atmosphere on display. Tony Todd, as always, is tremendous. He’s just as compelling to watch here as ever, and that golden voice of his is just as awesome. Philip Glass returned to deliver a couple of new compositions, with the rest of the score being made up of remixes and tracks from the original, so the music is, of course, on point. Unfortunately, everything else just feels sloppy. The casting is questionable – William O’Leary is just not great as Ethan Tarrant, and Kelly Rowan gives a pretty wooden performance as lead Annie Tarrant. The story is more confusing – Candyman wants to be with his family, I guess? I do like the backstory of Candyman – his lynching and tortured death are nice bits, but as the first showed, unnecessary. It’s certainly watchable, and there are some good kills. The problem is that it never rises above watchable, never has the passion, conviction, or elegance of the first film.
While I consider this film underrated – popular opinion is that it’s worthless, and that’s not the case, it’s very watchable, has some great cinematography and music – but it’s still not great. It’s not a patch on the original classic. Watch this for the visuals, for Todd, and the music, but don’t expect greatness.