• Candyman (Universal Studios) Blu-ray Review

    Candyman (Universal Studios) Blu-ray Review
    Released by: Universal Studios
    Released on: November 16th, 2021.
    Director: Nia DaCosta
    Cast: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Colman Domingo, Kyle Kaminsky, Vanessa Williams, Tony Todd
    Year: 2021
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    Candyman – Movie Review:

    Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is an up and coming artist who moves into a new apartment with his girlfriend, Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris), who just so happens to work as a representative for up and coming artists, getting them placement in gallery shows and what not. Early in the film, her brother, Troy Cartwright (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) and his boyfriend Grady Greenberg (Kyle Kaminsky), are visiting, and the discussion turns to the gentrification of the Cabrini-Green neighborhood of Chicago that they call home. While Anthony and Brianna live in a beautiful new skyscraper, it was built on what was once part of the housing projects that still surround the newly developed building.

    When Anthony starts having trouble finding inspiration for his work, he decides to explore Cabrini-Green and in doing so meets a man named William Burke (Colman Domingo) who runs a local laundromat. He tells Anthony the story of Sherman Fields (Michael Hargrove), a man with a hook for a hand who was killed a few decades prior by the police when they suspected him of putting razorblades in the candy that he gave to local kids. After Fields’ death, the razorblade issue continued, proving that Fields was innocent, but nothing was done to rectify the man’s death. When Anthony takes some reference photos in the area, he’s stung by a bee, the welt on his hand growing over the course of the film.

    As Anthony finds inspiration in the story of Fields and those who came before him, he learns the history of the Candyman legend and after saying his name five times into the mirror in the apartment he shares with his girlfriend, winds up inadvertently summoning the hooked killer. In doing so, as his sanity starts to crumble he unwittingly unleashes a new wave of murders, all while trying to figure out how his own past ties into the story and what’s really been causing the Candyman killings over all these years.

    Directed by Nia DaCosta, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld, 2021's Candyman isn’t really a remake of the 1992 Bernard Rose film based on the Clive Barker story ‘The Forbidden’ as it is a legitimate sequel, albeit on that works just fine on its own. If you haven’t seen the original film, you’ll still be able to watch and appreciate this updated version. And this version is very well done. There’s an obvious respect for Rose’s original film, this doesn’t erase any of the mythology created in that picture at all, rather, it builds on it and even incorporates Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd into the storyline in important ways. The script is clever, literate, well-written and wears its socio-political leanings proudly on its sleeve yet never feels too heavy handed with its politics.

    Production values are very strong here. DaCosta has a great eye for visuals and the cinematography from John Guleserian is frequently stunning. The use of shadow puppets to bring some of the flashbacks from decades past proves an interesting choice and helps to create some memorable visuals, while the beautifully bizarre score composed by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe helps immensely with the film’s atmosphere. There are also some impressive practical effects on display here, and when CGI is used, it isn’t as obvious as it is in a lot of other movies even if you can still tell that it’s CGI. The film also benefits from some really strong acting, with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in particular doing excellent work here.

    Candyman – Blu-ray Review:

    Universal Studios brings Candyman to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. Shot digitally, the image is as spotless as you’d expect, the transfer doing a great job of replicating the movie’s frequently dark scheme. There’s loads of depth, texture and detail here and while there are some moments where some mild banding is noticeable, there’s otherwise nothing to complain about here. Black levels are good, skin tones look spot on, color reproduction is perfect and it all just results in a very good looking picture.

    Audio options are provided in English language Dolby Atmos and in French and Spanish Dolby Digital. 5.1 Surround Sound. Removable subtitles are offered in English SDH, English, French Canadian and Latin American Spanish. The Atmos track is reference quality stuff, quite aggressive and enveloping when it needs to be, but even during the calmer, quieter moments there’s a lot to listen for, such as little background details or subtleties in the score. The audio is perfectly balanced and crystal clear, it sounds perfect.

    Universal has put quite a few extra features on this release, starting with an interesting three minute alternate ending set in the art gallery and a selection of deleted and extended scenes (three scenes in total: Who Do You Think Makes The Hood?, Wanna See Me Fly? and Fooked Oop).

    From there, dig into a bunch of featurettes starting with Say My Name. This is a seven minute piece made up of interviews with Nia DaCosta, Tony Todd, Jordan Peele, Teyonah Parris, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Win Rosenfeld. There's some interesting behind the scenes footage in here as well. It goes over the racial issues in America and how they're addressed in the film, the funhouse mirror aspect of the movie, how the film is a cautionary tale of sorts, the use of the paintings in the movie, active gangs in the area where the movie was being shot and more.
    In Body Horror we spend six minutes going over some of director Nia DaCosta's influences in how body horror is used in the movie and what went into creating the effects that were used in the film. She notes Cronenberg's The Fly, and we learn why the body horror elements were worked into the picture. Makeup effects head J. Anthony Kosar, Colman Domingo, Madeline Hollander and Ian Cooper show up here as well as some of the interviewees from the first movie

    The Filmmaker's Eye: Nia DaCosta is a five minute bit where DaCosta and a few others talk about the Candyman legend, growing up in the projects, getting into horror at a young age, the importance of the original Candyman, the importance to Peele of getting a black director for the film, how DaCosta handles the social issues in the movie and more.

    In the seven minute Painting Chaos interviews and behind the scenes footage explain some of Anthony's character motivations, the cultural and social relevance of the paintings that the character creates in the movie and how real artists like Cameron Spratley were commissioned to create the art that we see in the movie and how they tried to really capture the Chicago art scene.

    The Art Of Robert Aiki Aubrey is a five minute piece with composer Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe where we learn how he creature the film's unique score. Here he talks about how he knew Candyman from the original novel, living in Chicago and what all went into his work on the picture, including why he collaborated with certain musicians on the score.

    In the four minute Terror In The Shadows we get to go behind the scenes of the the analogue shadow puppet scenes that were used in the flashback sequences in the film, why they opted to use puppets for these scenes, what key members of the production team brought to the movie in this regard and how they teamed up with a company called Manual Cinema to create all of this footage in an analogue format.

    Candyman: The Impact Of Black Horror is a roundtable discussion moderated by Colman Domingo, who is joined by Tananarive Due (author, screenwriter and UCLA Professor Of Black Horror And Afrofuturism), Dr. Wendy Ashley (trauma psychotherapist), Yolo Akili Robinson (found of BEAM - the Black Emotional And Mental Health Collective), Lorenzo Lewis (founder of The Confess Project, America's first mental health barbershop!). It's a thoughtful talk about generational trauma, the importance of reframing the Candyman myth for modern times, how the fear of black men works its way into the movie, how racism can be conveyed in horror movies and reflect history and lots more.

    Universal Studios bundles the Blu-ray disc with a DVD disc and an insert for a digital HD download version of the movie and a slipcover.

    Candyman - The Final Word:

    The 2021 version of Candyman was a pleasant surprise. In an era where older properties are so often brought back but without the care they deserve, this picture proved to be smart, tense and engrossing. Universal’s Blu-ray release presents the film with an excellent presentation and a nice array of extras. Recommended.

    Screen caps below are from the included DVD as the Blu-ray disc didn’t want to cooperate with my PC!