Bernard Rose directs Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd and Xander Berkeley in this modern gothic tale of an urban legend that proves hauntingly real.
Released during the deepest ebb between horror cycles, Candyman got lumped in with careless cash-in sequels to Nightmares, Fridays and Critters for on its surface it introduced just another visually exciting slasher killer for the covers of Fangoria, ignored by the masses away from the gorehounds. Yet it is a far superior film to its peers that has improved with age; Rose’s direction is somber and intelligent, Philip Glass’s score minimalist and apt, and the performances are mature and committed. Virginia Madsen, in particular, is given a gamut of emotions and mental states to work through, which she does with aplomb, handling the various terrifying gauntlets thrown down at her convincingly. Her lead here really belongs in the horror parthenon of brilliant genre acting together with Sigourney “Aliens” Weaver, Jodie “Lambs” Foster, Nicole “Others” Kidman and Catherine “Repulsion” Deneuve. Shame she never found further challenging work or a wider audience. The Clive Barker sourced plot, tinged with the author’s trademark self-born mythology and intoxicating tortures, playfully shifts and leaps so that its settings includes the soap opera of academia, gritty ghetto life (more convincingly recreated here than in many ‘hood movies that were prevalent then too), gothic romance fantasy and syrupy red mayhem. As for the titular ghoul himself, Todd embodies him well and his limited but intriguing glimpses and torturous hypnotic yearning make him feel like a monster still worth revisiting… assuming that any reboot was to be handled in the inspired way this unfairly ignored chiller was. Sweets for the sweet.