Do you dare say his name five times in front of a mirror? “Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. Candyman…Candym-” Jordan Peele dares. According to Bloody Disgusting, the director of Get Out, and producer of seemingly five hundred other projects currently in development, is looking to revive the Candyman franchise in 2019. While much beloved in certain circles of horror fandom, Tony Todd’s hook-handed vomiter of bees is hardly as well known as fellow slashers like Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger. He’s a sympathetic monster with more on his mind than slashing young, nubile flesh. When his end credits roll, you’ll find the body count hard to celebrate.
Originally based on a short story by Clive Barker, Candyman revolved around an urban legend come to life within Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project. Local folklore explains that after the son of a slave is lynched for fathering a child with a white woman, his spirit can be brought into the material world when uttered five times in front of a mirror. Fascinated by the tale, Virginia Madsen’s graduate student pokes around the community and unknowingly summons the tortured soul. She then proceeds to write a thesis regarding how this myth placates the poor stuck on the bottom of society’s ladder.
Of course, when Candyman is resurrected and learns that his misery has become the basis for a snooty intellectual’s homework, the demon goes on a kill-crazy rampage in an effort to convince the natural world of his existence. Director Bernard Rose is not interested in POV stalking, or cheap jolts of Boo! Instead, Candyman targets the evils of the well-intentioned. Do-gooders who judge from the high place of privilege and cannibalize the plight of the poor for their own highbrow thought experiments.
Candyman is ripe material for a remake. The ideas are there, but maybe a little clunky. Or, better yet, trapped in a perspective not that different from its heroine. The resolution offers sympathy to the creature but skirts societal culpability by inviting the lead to stand side-by-side with the beast. Even though the sequels (Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh and Candyman: Day of the Dead) thankfully straight-up ignore the final moments of the original, they also manage to ditch the rage at the heart of the concept. An update could easily reestablish the pain and anger of the first film and potentially push it further.
At this stage, there is very little information surrounding the project. All we really know is that Peel’s Monkeypaw Productions is backing the remake. The idea that Peele might actually direct the film is slim to none. He’s still in the process of filming his next picture (Us) while he’s also shepherding a Twilight Zone remake, Lovecraft Country for HBO, Weird City for YouTube, The Hunt and Lorena Bobbitt for Amazon, and Lena Waithe’s anthology series Them. The man will need a clone army to get this all done.
Candyman seems like a natural fit amongst that long list of culturally minded entertainment. As we saw in his partnership with Spike Lee on BlacKkKlansman, Peele has garnered enough clout post-Oscar that studio suits are willing to throw money his way for concepts with a bite. The country has pricked up its ears, they’re listening, and want more than popcorn to accompany their ticket purchase.