New versions of ‘Candyman,’ ‘Suicide Squad’ worth a peek

It often takes a fresh eye to take a fresh look at a film.

Newcomer Nia DaCosta reimagines the world of 1992’s “Candyman” through the social lens of 2021.

To summon the bee-ridden Candyman, it still only requires saying his name five times in front of a mirror. When I was a young lad, Tony Todd was so realistically terrifying as the original Candyman, I could not bear to watch it. Michael Hargrove comes close in 2021, but he does not have Todd’s menacing screen presence.

30 years later

DaCosta’s “Candyman” takes it cues from the original; it took me about a third of the film to get up to speed. The shabby neighborhood of Cabrini Green has changed over the past 30 years. Young artists, like Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen), have started moving into the newly gentrified community. Anthony lives with his art dealer girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris).

While at dinner, Brianna’s brother tells a scary story that pretty much amounts to the plot of the first film. Looking for inspiration, Anthony goes in search of anything pertaining to Candyman. But he digs a little too deep, and his newest art is maybe a little too inspired by Candyman.

His obsession leads to Candyman re-entering the local consciousness, to understandably bad results.

DaCosta stuffs a few too many topical discussions into the film, leading to some being underexplored. Yet, it is refreshing to continue to see modern horror films like “Get Out” and “Candyman” be unafraid to tackle difficult subject matter while putting out some good scares at the same time. B

The Suicide Squad

I didn’t see 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” which was a revolting, PG-13 dumpster fire. Luckily, zero knowledge of that film is required for viewing 2021’s triumphant “The Suicide Squad.”

Director James Gunn, of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, knows how to write comedy that works for superhero movies. Even if the dialogue falls flat, you will not notice as you are likely to still be catching your breath from a previous fit of laughter.

Idris Elba is Bloodsport, leader of a “team” sent in to subdue a coup and secure dangerous technology. The team is made up of incarcerated villains whose heads will explode if they deviate from the mission. The plot is not important; we’re only watching to laugh and see each villain die in as gory a way as possible.

DC would be wise to steer from the dreariness of the “Justice League” films and focus more on the gleeful nature of “The Suicide Squad.” A-

Late summer TV

“The Head.” (HBOMAX) Lost in the 2020 shuffle, this mini-series is worth seeking out. Murders during the sparse, dark months at an Antarctica research facility throw the returning expedition leader into a compelling mystery.

“The Serpent.” (Netflix): Confusing at first, this eight-part series weaves back and forth through time, but mostly only spans a few years.

Covering the true story of serial murderer Charles Sobhraj and the Dutch diplomat obsessed with catching him, the show dances between at least five different countries. The 1970s have never looked as sleek.


Jeff Mellinger

Jeff Mellinger is a screen writer and film buff. He holds a BA in Film Studies and an MFA in film production. He lives in Concord.