The latest installment of the candy man franchise hits theaters on Aug. 27. In anticipation of the movie’s release, one of the film’s stars, Colman Domingo, who plays a mysterious character named William Burke, sat down with a group of Black educators and mental health professionals to discuss the deeper meaning behind the story.
The original 1992 horror classic followed a man with a hook for a hand, who haunts the housing projects of Chicago’s Cabrini Green neighborhood. He can only be summoned by repeating “Candyman” five times in a mirror.
Years after the Cabrini towers were torn down, visual artist (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II; HBO’s Watchmen) and his girlfriend, gallery director Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris; If Beale Street Could Talk), moved into a luxury loft condo in the now gentrified Cabrini.
Mr. Candyman, however, is not here for gentrification, and when McCoy dares to say his name five times, all hell breaks loose. Directed and co-written by filmmaker Our DaCosta (Little Woods) and produced by Jordan Peele, the film is sure to horrify audiences and make you think twice about some things.
In a 20-minute sit-down conversation with a group of mental health and cultural experts, Domingo further explores concepts around the film’s broader themes.
After viewing clips, Yolo Robinson, the executive director and founder of the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective, said, “The first thing that came to mind was thinking about intergenerational trauma. The legacy of so many stories that candy man symbolically represents, this continued legacy of violence against Black folks.”
Tananarive Due, UCLA professor of Black horror and Afrofuturism, also added, “It was very important for Nia DaCosta to come and reframe a story about Black trauma through a Black lens, not through the white lens.”
The original film was written and directed by a white man named Bernard rose and starred a white actress Virginia Madsen. Much of the film was centered around Madsen’s character, with the Black characters, including Candyman, in the background.
Parts of the movie were filmed in the area of the former Cabrini Green projects, which Wendy Ashley, a trauma psychotherapist, thought was important from a historical perspective.
“This takes me right back to the 1930s and redlining. This is sort of where the gap in wealth came from… they were allowed to become impoverished, leading to mass incarceration, leading to poverty, leading to all sorts of substance use,” said Ashley.
The film received tons of love from the panel, and they encouraged everyone, especially Black communities, to embrace the Candyman of 2021.
Mental health advocate Lorenzo Lewis stated, “I think young people watching this film can really feel powerful knowing that these stories are still upheld.”
Watch the entire discussion below:
candy man opens in theaters on August 27.
Parrish Lewis/Universal Pictures and MGM Pictures