The ending of the 1992 horror film Candyman was repeated, in spirit, in 2009. In The Midnight Meat Train, another adaptation of a story contained in Clive Barker's Books of Blood anthology, Bradley Cooper plays a photographer who spirals into madness when he stalks a serial killer on a subway. The film ends when (spoilers!) Bradley Cooper discovers the killer is only performing an ancient duty, and he is next in line to take over.
Nearly two decades earlier, Candyman also adapted a Books of Blood story and introduced an ending of cursed succession. In Candyman, white student Helen (Virginia Madsen) investigates a Chicago urban legend "Candyman" (played by an iconic Tony Todd) only to become that urban legend. That's not how Barker's original story "The Forbidden" ended, but it is a recurring theme from the author to have people turn into their most destructive obsessions. Now, Jordan Peele, the horror master behind 2017's Get Out and 2019's Us, is resurrecting the myth in Candyman, a 2020 sequel from director Nia DaCosta.
But does DaCosta's sequel include a new riff on "cursed successions" from Barker's stories? There's a moment in the trailer that suggests it will. And there also appears to be a major change in shift to the Candyman's powers.
On Thursday, the trailer for Candyman arrived online. Like Us before it, the film covers an upbeat R&B pop hit from everyone's nostalgia and shrouds it in darkness. But one part of the trailer has the film's protagonist, photographer Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) look at himself in the mirror, only to see the Candyman staring right back at him.
Unlike other scares in the trailer, the Candyman isn't behind Anthony. He is Anthony.
That's not all. The Candyman seems to have different powers in the new movie. While the Candyman can still be summoned (and subsequently still rack up a body count), the Candyman seems to be an invisible presence who lives in mirrors. Check out some moments in the trailer when he strikes and you'll see the Candyman only appears in the reflections.
Candyman's new powers
Here's our best guess at what exactly is going on: The Candyman's powers have weakened over the years as gentrifying Chicago has all but forgotten about his story (in the first movie, it was people's enduring fear of him that gave him power). Because of his weakened relevance, the Candyman doesn't kill "in person" but can still strike through reflections. And because he doesn't have a physical form, he might "live" through Abdul-Mateen II's Anthony.
We are, of course, just guessing. If we're right, it's a rather clunky premise that will have audiences asking too many questions about how the Candyman "works" instead of screaming in their seats.
But if there's anyone who can make an absurd horror concept work, it's Jordan Peele, who co-writes the new Candyman with Win Rosenfeld. And no matter what form the Candyman takes, we'll always know to never say his name.
Candyman opens in theaters on June 12.