2021's Candyman is not a remake but a sequel to the 1992 original, and it just does so many things well.
First and foremost, the cinematography is simply gorgeous—inventive and captivating in almost every scene—and that alone makes the film well worth a watch. In addition, writer-producer Jordan Peele did a fantastic job with the characters, who are both compelling and nuanced, and the script manages to develop these characters in such a thorough yet natural way, without beating the audience over the head with exposition as many plot-forward movies do. And I really liked how up-and-coming director Nia DaCosta brought back so many actors and characters from the first film and then used them meaningfully instead of just making them feel like throwaway cameos, like many big-budget Hollywood movies seem to do these days.
Most of all, however, I liked how the movie builds upon the original yet was unafraid to venture into new territory and to update the story for the 21st century. Both Candyman films are really about the horrors of racial capitalism, but while the first filtered the story through the lens of a white woman (whose character was trying to "appreciate" black culture at the same time she was profiting from it under the guise of academia), the sequel was directed by, written by, and stars black talent, and is very much a film told through the experience of blackness. In this film, it's always the white characters who are so foolish as to summon the Candyman, while the black characters wonder "Who would do such a stupid thing?" or nope out when they see a dark scary passage—after all, they weren't raised with the privilege of lacking common sense. And the moment when Teyonah Parris's character realises that her career is being advanced only because her story is marketable (due to the public interest in her father and her boyfriend, two black men) is a subtle yet powerful one indeed, and a feeling that many black women caught between the intersectionality of racism and patriarchy can well relate to. There are many moments like this, and the film touches upon so many important themes: gentrification, the commodification of the black experience, police violence and institutionalised racism, and the way that white people use their power to shape the public narrative, among others.
This is not to say that the new Candyman is a perfect film, by any means. The plot leaves a few unanswered questions
For instance, why was laundromat owner Billy Burke helping create the new Candyman? Was he possessed too, or had he simply been driven crazy from his experiences? And why was Anthony McCoy chosen by the Candyman? Was it relevant at all that he was the abducted baby? Did the Candyman choose him as the next iteration back then and then bide his time for nearly 30 years, or was it McCoy's fascination with the story that drew them together? And where was Helen Lyle, who was transformed into the Candyman's female accomplice at the end of the original film—shouldn't she have been involved in some way or at least explained away with a passing comment?, and although I liked how efficient the storytelling was, I would really have liked to see a bit more. (In particular, I wish Troy had been given more screen time...he was by far my favourite character!) Furthermore, I would say that this film is less outright "scary" than the original, as it trades much of the 1992 film's tense atmosphere and jump scares for gory body horror and the intellectual horror of being black in America today. Perhaps the film also suffers a little in the fright department from not following a single character who is terrorised by the Candyman like Helen in the original, someone the audience can latch on to and empathise with, but instead splits its focus between two main characters, one of whom isn't very likeable. Overall, I feel similarly (albeit to a lesser extent) to how I felt after watching Peele's 2019 film Us: there are so many brilliant ideas, and so much creepy potential, but it's usually scarier not to see the monster than to see it so often, and it's usually better to under-explain than to over-explain, and I kind of wished that the Candyman sequel had promoted the idea that there can be multiple coexisting interpretations of the urban legend of the Candyman, which is what it seemed to be going for at the beginning of the film, rather than trying to tie everything together with complicated explanations by the end.
Still, this film is far from the "dud" that IMDb and the other commentator here would have you believe!