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A Gruesome Voyage into Gentrification, Hood Mythology, and Generational Trauma: The Rundown on Jordan Peele’s ‘Candyman’

Oct 06, 2021 10:00AM ● By Nana Ama Addo
Candyman 2021

(Image by Candyman Movie via Instagram )

“Candyman ain’t a he. Candyman’s the whole damn hive.” 

-Candyman (2021 film)

The slasher film known as Candyman brings Black culture to the center of the horror genre. The 2021 Candyman film, written by Jordan Peele, Nia DaCosta, and Win Rosenfield, and directed by Nia DaCosta, continues the storyline from the 1992 original. 

Yaya Abdul Mateen II plays Anthony McCoy, an artist in Chicago who searches for inspiration for his new art piece. He then hears a story about a woman named Helen Lyle, who was the central character in the original Candyman film. Other actors include Teyonah Parris, Philadelphia’s own Colman Domingo, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Vanessa Williams, and more.

The story unfolds as McCoy summons Candyman, and uncovers an intergenerational story of the consequences of injustice and trauma. This film presents visual imagery of the upper middle class living in Chicago, juxtaposed with an impoverished past, telling real-life stories of gentrification in urban cities.

Candyman, originally an adaptation of ‘The Forbidden’, a short story by Clive Barker, was a cultural phenomenon in the 90s that consisted of 3 sequels. All four films focus on the Cabrini Green projects, a housing project in Chicago that was notorious for high volumes of crime and poverty in the 1960s.

This year’s Candyman, set in 2019, brings issues of race and class into the 21st century. The color schemes in the film of earth colors, including orange, maroons, yellows, and browns, and the various shot styles create an enhanced visual experience, and the film combines sound effects and dark humor to merge the past with the present.

Major themes of the film include gentrification, the commodification of Black pain, the desire for fame and influence, folklore,  and Black art in White-owned spaces.

Watch Candyman in the theatres today. If you are unvaccinated or a hermit, you can also stream Candyman on online channels such as Amazon Prime.

Delve into the Candyman Social Impact Initiative, and the Candyman educational curriculum, presented in collaboration with the Langston League and Professor Tanarive Due and Professor John Jennings, here.

 Nana Ama Addo is a writer, multimedia strategist, film director, and storytelling artist. She graduated with a BA in Africana Studies from the College of Wooster, and has studied at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Nana Ama tells stories of entrepreneurship and Ghana repatriation at her brand, Asiedua’s Imprint ( ).

Read more from Nana Ama Addo:

Image by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexel

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