Universal releases Juneteenth tribute with 'Candyman' director Nia DaCosta

The upcoming film updates the iconic horror villain for a new age

Published On
Jun 18, 2021

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The classic 1992 horror film “Candyman” dissects the history of racism and violence in America. It was a twist on the short story it was based on, Clive Barker’s "The Forbidden," a tale of class conflict in the U.K. The original horror film, written and directed by Bernard Rose, follows a white graduate student, Helen, who is studying urban legends and discovers the mythos of Candyman.

In the film’s fable, Candyman was the son of a slave in the late 1800s who was lynched for his romantic involvement with a white woman. One hundred years later, his spirit stalks the site of his murder—the neglected Cabrini Green housing project in Chicago. The Black residents of Cabrini Green are haunted by the reverberations of the violence against Candyman, but find a hero in Helen by the end of the film.

In the documentary “Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror,” Jordan Peele, among other Black horror filmmakers and actors, expresses his love for the original, but says it’s a “film that’s kind of problematic.” So Peele and his company Monkeypaw Productions have set out to tell the story anew in their sequel to the classic. Co-written and directed by Nia DaCosta, the new "Candyman" this time takes the perspective of a Black couple that moves into a luxury condo on the land that used to be occupied by Cabrini Green.

In collaboration with DaCosta, Universal Pictures released a video called “Candyman x Juneteenth,” honoring the now federally recognized holiday. According to a statement from the company, the new “Candyman” expresses the “movement and momentum of Black lives now,” in the 21st century. “Black art, and Black storytelling in particular provides audiences the opportunity to see both the reality and the possibility of Black lives in America."

In the video, set to a rendition of Philip Glass’s haunting score from the original film, DaCosta speaks about her revelation from the past year’s “really amazing show of political and cultural and emotional force” in between clips from the “Candyman” trailer. She says she found inspiration for the new sequel in the “truth of the pain” of the original movie.

“In the real world, we create monsters of men all the time,” she says. “People are murdered. They become either saints or they’re vilified. Juneteenth represents hope for Black Americans. On the other side, it’s incredibly difficult. There’s a lot of pain and they kind of walk hand in hand."

The video ends with a reminder that you can catch Candyman in theaters August 27th.