A couple of years after Candyman (1992) was released, some kids in my class were talking about the film. For some reason or another most of the kids I knew started watching horror films before I did. This meant that most of my friends started watching them before they were nine years old. A little too young? Probably so, but we still found ourselves enamored in this culture that probably could have waited until we were teenagers.
I think this started though because some of us were simply told not to watch them. After all, when we’re younger and told not to do something we want to even more. Somehow sneaking around and watching films we are not to supposed to was far more easier than today though. So many restrictions in place now that’s a bit more difficult. When I watched Candyman, I was in the fifth grade.
When I watch the film now I do not stand before a mirror repeating a name to test the film either, which I did in the fifth grade on a dare. When I did lay down, I laid on my back praying that he magically does not come up through my bed somehow with a hook. Point in case, do not let your eleven or twelve year old watch this film. They will want to go to the mirror, repeat the word, and become freaked out for the rest of the night and well into the morning hours.
To further illustrate my point, a synopsis must be given! Candyman is about a student, Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), who is writing her thesis on various local myths and legends. Upon visiting various parts of town, she learns of the legend of The Candyman. Supposedly by saying his name five times in a mirror, he appears. A one-armed man with a hook for a hand. Refusing to believe what has been said, Helen is still intrigued, because everyone in the area are truly afraid of this man called The Candyman.
Instead of ignoring the warnings of the locals, a series of murders begin to occur in the neighborhood. People of course begin to blame this on her snooping around, and no one can truly blame them for such. As Helen continues to investigate this so-called myth, she realizes that there’s much more there than meets the eye. After all, there’s always some truth behind every urban legend. Maybe there’s some truth to the legend of the man the locals call Candyman. While this might not seem that bad for someone who enjoys horror films to watch, the reason the film is a bit more mature and harder for people to handle is the imagery involved.
The graphics, while probably considered weak by some now, were quite terrifying when I was younger. This of course is to say the least, but with the film presenting the legend in such a manner, I still say this is a film that can terrify the younger crowd to this date. This writer can certainly say that I had waited until at least my teen years to view the film because that sleepless night in the fifth grade would not have occurred.
The acting within the film is superior especially from Tony Todd. Most younger people probably know him as the guy who talks about death in the Final Destination series. I know him of course from that franchise as well, but initially as the guy with the hook for a hand who scared the hell out of me. To say the least, he is perfect in the role of The Candyman/Daniel Robitaille. With his height and his ability to tower over his victims, which only Madsen’s character and audiences can see, he frightens viewers in a way they will not forget for a long time to come. After all, the image of bees swarming out of someone’s mouth still freaks me out and has been used in films such as Case 39 (2009) since to evoke fear in audiences.
Then there’s Madsen. While she was not an actress that one would expect to see playing Helen, no other person who could have pulled off a fearless attitude while showcasing fear in her very soul. She is a true talent. The odd part is the chemistry that somehow exists between Todd and Madsen when on-screen. Another notable chemistry within a horror film came merely a year before with The Silence of the Lambs (1991) between Agent Starling and Hannibal Lecter. By monopolizing on such, horror films like Candyman can create a much deeper connection with audiences than ever before.
Candyman is one of the rare films that does not just present a ton of gore in its audiences faces. Instead the film truly makes one think. Is The Candyman real? Is he a figment of the locals imagination? No one can really say for sure, but one can say that he manages to ruin lives within the film as if he were real. One has to truly think about what he or she has just viewed.
Plus, like all successful horror films, two sequels have derived from the original Candyman. Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995) and Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999). The point is if one wants to think a little bit and ponder their inner demons, Candyman is an excellent choice to watch this Halloween season. Just to yourself a favor and stay away from mirrors afterward.