Is It Worth It? is a new series where I talk about sequels a lot of people skip, and determine if they are worth a visit or better left in the bargain bin. Fair warning, there will be some spoilers in my recap, so if you just want the verdict skip to the bottom.
From IMDb: The Candyman arrives in New Orleans and sets his sights on a young woman whose family was ruined by the immortal killer years before.
So I decided to just (with the exception of last week’s special edition Pride post) make this a whole month of Candyman and finally check out the sequels.
Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (or Candyman 2 for short) starts by recapping the Candyman legend. Smug Philip from the first film is giving an obnoxiously dramatic presentation on his new book about Candyman at a bookstore in New Orleans. We know this because he states it. And after that the movie never EVER lets us forget the city it is set in.
Smug Philip also milks Helen’s tragic demise for his own profit, and even plays an elaborate joke at the end of his presentation where a hook bursts through the projection screen he was using to “grab him” after he summons Candyman.
Smug Philip is confronted by a man claiming his father was killed by Candyman thanks to Philip telling his father the legend wasn’t real. Soon after, Candyman kills Smug Philip at last. But not before Smug Philip looks terrified of a Black man using the same washroom as him. Because I guess he can’t tell a random Black person apart from Candyman? He also awkwardly plugs his book, and the unnamed Black character makes the wise decision to peace out of this movie.
We are then introduced to our main character Annie Tarrant, who is…oh no. She’s the Nice White Lady sketch from Mad TV. She is pulled away from being a white savior to the inner city Black kids she teaches because her brother is in trouble. It turns out her brother Ethan is the one who confronted Terrible Philip at the beginning of the film, and he is now the prime suspect in his murder.
Annie first goes to pickup her mom, who has a bizarre subplot of being a Southern belle with terminal cancer who’s trying to put on a brave, resilient face with inappropriate quips in way that is very reminiscent of the “I definitely have breast cancer” line from The Room. Don’t believe me? Here is some of the dialogue:
Octavia: He’ll make a great father one day. Course, I’ll be food for the worms by then…I’d like a winter funeral. Especially with this climate.
We meet Annie’s too good for this world husband, Paul, who her mom seems to have a crush on.
After talking to Ethan, Annie and Paul travel to Annie’s childhood home which is now home to various squatters to look for clues about her father’s death. We also find out like Candyman, Annie is an artist – an interesting connection to the upcoming spiritual sequel of the original.
When she returns to her classroom, she finds chaos has erupted, and the substitute teacher has completely lost control of the classroom.
The kids are fighting because of Candyman somehow, so Annie summons Candyman in her conveniently placed classroom mirror to try and prove her isn’t real. A few moments afterwards, a single bee buzzes near the classroom window before seeming to die. This is meant to be an ominous omen somehow?
Candyman comes and kills Paul while trying to enchant Annie to join him, much like with Helen in the first film. Traumatized, Annie goes to stay with her mother, but some of her students show up to explain another student, Matthew, has disappeared. White savior mode is activated, so she goes to look for him.
Her search leads her to a black market arts dealer who tells her more about Candyman aka Daniel Robitaille’s history. And this is when it gets a bit complicated.
Daniel was born in New Orleans the son of a slave. At some point, he travels up to Chicago where he is killed by a lynch mob for having a relationship with a white woman, Caroline. The whole idea of him haunting Cabrini Green is because that is where he died. Caroline is secretly with child and devastated. She travels to New Orleans and raises their daughter as a white girl in the plantation house where Daniel was born. These are the the loops the film had to jump through to create the reveal that Annie is really Candyman’s great great granddaughter, and that her childhood home is also Candyman’s childhood home. To top it off Annie is pregnant, so Candyman wants her to join him in immortality through death.
This all culminates in a confrontation in the slave quarters Daniel was born in. He shows Annie the horrific scene of his lynching where he received the name Candyman. He even cries while recounting the story. He tells Annie in death there will be no more pain, just immortality together. It doesn’t sound like a bad deal. But then Annie remembers he kind of did kill her whole family and is like “no thank you.” She finally manages to break his lover Caroline’s mirror, the source of his supernatural power. She manages to save herself and her missing student.
A few years later, we see Annie tucking in her five-year-old daughter, named Caroline in honor of Annie’s great great grandmother. Caroline begins to summon Candyman, somehow knowing the legend, but Annie manages to stop her in time.
- There are at least three jump scares in this movie involving a white person unexpectedly seeing a Black person that is not Candyman. On one hand, that is a pretty offensive way on playing on the racial aspects of the film. On the other hand, in a nation full of racial profiling, it seems realistic. But I don’t think the intention was a commentary on racial profiling so it just adds to the cringe factor.
- On the flip side, the movie touches on themes of police indifference towards Black communities. When Annie asks her missing student’s father what the police said about his disappearance, the father remarks “the police don’t give a damn. They figure, one less drug dealer or potential murderer to worry about”
- I actually appreciate the New Orleans setting being played up and how it ties into the story. It has a similar tone to the importance of Chicago in the first film, and really amplifies the idea of Candyman as an urban legend that crops up in various cities
- Paul is a nice contrast to Trevor in the first film. I appreciate when a sequel does the exact opposite of something in the original rather than doubling down on the same character dynamics. It makes it all the more tragic when Paul is killed by Candyman
- Also on the subject of Annie’s marriage, it looks like she kept her last name which is a neat detail
- Veronica Cartwright is perfect for the role of Octavia Tarrant. She just oozes aging Southern belle
- The narrative device with the Kingfish radio show host is so jarring it borders on self-parody. Why someone thought this was a good decision is beyond me. But thanks to him, I will never forget this movie is set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
- The Candyman aka Daniel Robitaille comes across as even more of a tragic figure in this film. The lynching flashback is truly hard to watch, and his tears when recounting the story really cement him as a sympathetic villain who was turned evil by evil being done to him.
- In the climax, Annie finds her missing student Matthew in her childhood home. She asks him to get help, and he somehow comes back a few minutes later with a bunch of other kids who just sort of chant for Annie as she tries to not drown. Great job I guess?
- This movie really avoids overt hints at incest between Candyman and Annie, but don’t worry – it saved ALL the uncomfortable incest for the decidedly shitty sequel Candyman: Day of the Dead.
Absolutely worth a watch. This is an excellent “so good it’s bad” film. This movie is like somebody wrote a fanfiction about Candyman. It feels very 90s in its style and tropes, acting as an interesting time capsule of 90s horror pre-Scream. Because it uses the same composer from the original, it sounds like a true sequel, even if it has to retcon the original in bizarre ways to make its setting work. The nuanced themes of race are really dumbed down in this one, but it still feels like it wants to the original justice. Candyman: Day of the Dead however? That’s a story for next week.