I'm an artist, a writer, a director, a film critic and occasionally I cook. Here I will be mainly focusing on film critiquing.
Can Candyman Do It Again?
1992’s Candyman is arguably one of the best horror films to come out of the 1990s and has certainly left its mark on the horror community forever with Tony Todd’s image as the titular character still being regarded as a classic nearly 30 years later.
However, with that said, how highly regarded is the franchise as a whole? Seeing how masterfully well handled the original film was, one would think that same level of care would be carried over into the following sequels, right? Unfortunately, it seems that the original movie’s director, Bernard Rose, disagreed heavily with the studio on which direction to take this new horror icon.
This resulted in the studio moving on with a new director, Bill Condon. The man who would eventually segue from horror to have one of the most inconsistent film careers of all time as he ranged from Oscar worthy contenders from the likes of Gods & Monsters and Dreamgirls, dark thrillers such as The Good Liar, the major flop biopic The Fifth Estate, melodramatic schlock for teens that is Twilight: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 and 2, and then randomly one of Disney’s most pointless remakes with 2017’s Beauty and the Beast. This man has done it all!
Going Back to Formula
The first Candyman was anything except formulaic; going against several horror traditions from the villain’s motives to the musical score and scares, this film fought against falling into being another horror title lost in the mix. Then when we turn our sights onto the 1995 follow-up, Farewell to the Flesh, we find ourselves doing the complete opposite. Becoming yet another generic slasher more interested in having a body count with failed attempts at recapturing superficial elements from its predecessor rather than a compelling or even remotely frightening narrative. Not to mention a couple dozen false jump scares sprinkled throughout the meandering runtime.
Annie Tarrant (Kelly Rowan), a young teacher who is investigating a murderous crime her brother Ethan (William O’Leary) is accused of committing. Upon finding more evidence to the contrary, Annie figures out that the murders have something to do with an old urban legend known as the Candyman (Tony Todd).
A horrific tale from 1890 of a colored man, Daniel Robitaille (Tony Todd… Again), who fell in love with and impregnated a wealthy white woman, resulting in the woman’s father seeking a twisted vengeance on Daniel. Hiring a group of thugs to cut off the man’s right hand, smother his body in honey and leave him to a swarm of bees to sting him to death.
Now the spirit of Daniel lives on as a legend to strike fear in the hearts of all who utter his new name five times in a mirror. It’s up to Annie to prove her brother’s innocence and solve the mystery of why her family is haunted by Candyman as it appears he has a deeper connection than expected.
Starting off on the Wrong Foot
Without any doubt in my mind, I’m declaring that this sequel’s introductory sequence as entirely lazy while it sets up the lackluster tone in one of the lamest ways possible with a flimsy attempt at bridging the gap from the original movie; starting off with a book seminar repeating the origins of the Candyman legend through the only reprising character, aside from Candyman himself, Phillip Purcell (Michael Culkin) which leads to the first of many false jump scares to be seen in the picture. A hook piercing through a projector screen by an intern named Peter… So scary!
Soon after Purcell’s spooky book conference, he’s pretty much immediately axed off by Candyman as his first victim of the movie. Cutting all remaining ties from the 1992 flick, again, with the exception of Tony Todd of course. Although at least it was established that Helen from the first movie was blamed for all the Candyman murders in Chicago, a detail that I honestly admired how she was publicly perceived as someone who became obsessed with the Candyman mythos and started killing in his name. Unnecessary? No question. I simply am fond of how it explained what became of Helen’s own “legend.”
We’re in Louisiana Now?
A major element that contributed to the 1992 film’s identity was its urban setting of Cabrini Green, a rundown and gang ridden housing project of Chicago. Aiding to a bleak and gritty tone along with fueling some interesting social themes as well. Now we’ve made our way to New Orleans for this sequel and do we have anything of value from this southern environment? Not particularly. Other than the occasional Kentucky fried accents poking out and sometimes featuring what I believe is supposed to be Mardi Gras, there’s not anything remotely evoking the same amount of real world suspense nor provocative themes on race or society as seen prior. In all honesty, it feels as though the only reason this movie even takes place in New Orleans is to feature the iconic Louisiana parade visuals from time to time. With that said, it’s not too distracting either. It’s simply a missed opportunity in my opinion to recapture some of that spark which made the original so special.
Jump Scare City
For the first 35 minutes of the runtime, I truthfully struggle to come up with much to talk about story wise because the first act hinges entirely on exposition and excuses for jump scares. Literally any reason the writers can come up with something to make a loud noise to shout at the audience, they do it vigorously! Even with absolutely no excuse for a jump scare, the soundtrack will abruptly screech at the screen when simply all that’s seen on the screen is the principal of a school walking into a classroom. I wish I were joking, but that is seriously one of the earliest jump scares in the film. What a complete embarrassment if you ask me.
The laughable jump scares are quite honestly the only way I can personally structure this movie. First we have the principal walking into a classroom jump scare, leading into Annie talking with her newly incarcerated brother about how he has taken the blame for Candyman’s murder of Purcell. Why? I’m not sure, supposedly Annie’s brother Ethan feels guilty for the homicide of their father, who was also killed by the Candyman. Sure, we’ll go with that. Although Annie remains unconvinced of her kooky brother pulling a murder spree out of the blue, so she vows to find out who the real killer is. May we be all so proud of her for initiating her big kid investigation… a woman who teaches kids how to paint on the weekend… Kids who she can’t even convince to use actual canvas to paint on as they insist on painting on mirrors. She seems qualified.
Saying His Name… Again
After we’ve firmly established our brand new investigation of Candyman murders involving our blond heroine; we are then treated to an onslaught of jump scares involving a drunk guy smooshing his face against a window, a crime scene photographer’s camera flashes containing malicious sounding filters, the lead’s husband literally just walking into a room, and a crackhead hobo with his pet bird… You know… some real topnotch scares that are deserving of obnoxiously loud music stingers. Reaching the second act, we’re now privileged to the obligatory scene of the hero making a mockery of the Candyman myth by uttering his name five times in the mirror in order to prove he doesn’t exist to the students of her class. So of course that pisses Candyman off enough to kill her husband in the very next scene!
Timothy Carhart: Paul the Husband
What I’m about to say will probably sound mostly negative towards this specific actor, but I want it to be known that I believe Carhart is a charismatic as hell actor who can be an absolute joy on screen. That being said, his performance is a little… How do I put this? Inconsistent. For starters, he is introduced into the movie with having possibly the most cartoonish Louisiana accent ever put to film. Which of course sounds rather ridiculous, but on top of that, the Southern accent fades in and out for the first third of the movie until it just disappears entirely. And I don’t mean that he eventually only has a slight southern accent, oh no! It is completely eradicated and reverted back to his born and raised, Washington state voice.
If anyone is wondering, the reason why I’m bringing up the subject of this character now rather than later is because he dies a third into the movie and it feels pointless to retrace my steps to talk about this character again. And yes, I understand if a casting director or a studio or producer wants a certain actor to join their cast, it’s completely understandable to want someone like Timothy Carhart who is very likable and talented. Here’s the thing though, if the role demands for a southern accent and the actor you want to cast is not capable of pulling off said southern accent… Maybe it’s best not to hire that particular actor and find someone who can actually portray the accent without losing it in every other line of dialog. Otherwise it comes across as extremely distracting to watch a talented actor struggle so hard with simply reading his lines without sounding silly, to the point that he apparently gives up on the accent.
Not to mention, Paul is a nothing character. He’s a southern wide smiled doofus created only to die. After he’s out of the picture it feels as though the lead character… You know, the woman who is married to this man… Barely gives a rat’s ass that he is murdered right in front of her very eyes! In the grand scheme of things, this character does not matter in the slightest. Technically speaking, his sperm sort of pushes the plot along since there’s a revelation of Annie contracting a small case of pregnant from Paulie. Although even then it still feels like a forgettable character that contributes jack to anything going on. The biggest impression the Paul character left on me was the fact that he put fish bones down the garbage disposal… Who the hell does that?!
Back on That Jump Scare Train
After Paul is dead and no one seemingly gives much of a damn about it, we are back on that jump scare train at full speed ahead! Launching the redundancy back off with a Candyman fake-out dream sequence, clearly only the sweetest scares for the sweets. Moving back into a little bit of plot development, sort of, we come to find out that one of Annie’s students is missing. Dun, dun, dun. This is, however, no ordinary student as this boy is actually quite fascinated with the Candyman legend. Forcing our heroine to delve a smidge deeper down the rabbit hole to investigate what story is behind Candyman and what he has to do with these murders. Although soon after Annie’s initial investigation of the missing boy, she’s back to mostly not caring about wherever he vanished off to as she’s more preoccupied with proving her brother’s innocence.
Adding to the Body Count
As I said before, the script comes off as more focused on finding reasons to include more kills instead of fleshing out a story. So we move onto a snow cone vender who so happens to be in possession of the painting that Daniel Robitaille crafted of his forbidden love. Somehow this snow cone vender also holds the knowledge of how to break the Candyman curse. Because who else would know more about the Candyman other than a pervy snow cone vendor? Whatever, no need to explain why this man is so well informed on the Candyman as it’s been a whole fifteen minutes since we’ve been treated to an onscreen death. Time to rectify that issue real quick by covering this horny old man up with a hundred bees and tossing him through a wall!
Why did Candyman decide to kill this man now? No freaking clue. In the first movie, it felt as though the Candyman methodically planned out every single one of his kills before doing the deed. With specifically one simple goal in mind; all to drive Helen another step further into madness while the entire world blames her for his handywork… No pun intended. Then when we look at Farewell to the Flesh, it feels completely random. Killing Purcell at the beginning does at least kickoff the plot, yet at the same time it doesn’t give me the impression that Candyman did it for a purpose. More so that the studio demanded a kill early on in the movie to get the attention of the teen audience as quick as cynically possible. What about Annie’s husband, Paul? Again, one would imagine his death contributing a significant amount narratively speaking or even developing the arc of Annie’s character yet is somehow a footnote. Then we have the utterly pointless dream sequence of Candyman slitting the throat of Annie’s mother, because false jump scares are what make a horror movie good! Now we’re technically on kill number four and what does it contribute to the story? Dick all! Nothing! Nada! Zip! Zilch! Zero! It’s completely meaningless seeing how the police investigating the murders barely acknowledge the occurrence and story wise we move on faster than we arrived.
For some reason, I have no clue as to why because it still befuddles my mind while typing this very article, immediately after Annie is attacked by the Candyman she proceeds to run home and take a shower… Recounting everything that happened in the order that it happened; Annie speaks to a snow cone vendor who reveals the secrets of ridding Candyman once and for all, she discovers that her father was obsessed with Candyman and his love interest which made her father perform his own investigation of the legend and resulting in his murder, Annie is then attacked by Candyman who tells her she is pregnant with Paul’s child, instantly after that revelation she witnesses Candyman murder the horny snow cone vendor by death from a thousand stings and shoving his head through a metal wall, she is then chased down by Candyman in the streets of New Orleans in the middle of a parade, managing to run all the way back to her apartment where she sprints her way up stairs to lock her door and hurriedly strip completely naked to jump in the shower… Visually speaking, she’s not covered in any nastiness such as blood or anything at all from what I can tell. Annie simply feels the need to take a shower all of the sudden after seeing a guy get killed I guess? Cool. This random, obligatory nude scene was brought to you by a studio note erection.
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Annie’s brother dies due to his own stupidity. In an already generally stupid scene, the detective who has a hard on in nailing Ethan with the Candyman murders is antagonizing the suspect by physically assaulting Ethan and saying Candyman’s name five times in the interrogation room’s mirror. Because professionalism is a priority at this police department. Anyways, because of the detective’s naïve summoning of the hook handed slasher, Tony Todd carves himself a pig all wrapped in blue. Shaken by the sight of this horrific scene, Ethan runs out of the interrogation room after the detective was chucked from a second story window where officers would undoubtedly be ready to fire at any assailant attempting to flee… And wouldn’t ya know it? Good ol’ dumb ass Ethan so happens to be attempting to flee the crime scene. Put them both together and what do you get? Ethan shot in the back by a provoked cop because… No sh*t! Adding Ethan to the ever-growing pointless body count.
As Annie dug deeper into figuring out the connection between the Candyman and her family, it turns out that Candyman is Annie’s great-great grandfather? Something like that. Not sure how many greats, but he’s apparently pretty great… Well, it is Tony Todd we’re talking about here, so I’ll give the movie points for credibility. Anyways, Annie’s mother has been keeping this little detail a secret all her life and refuses to believe that delicious man himself exists. Which leads me to a question that has irked me from the beginning; why did Annie’s father become obsessed with investigating the Candyman legend? Why did he give a sh*t?
First of all, Candyman was related to the family on the mother’s side and not the father’s, so that eliminates making it particularly all that personal for him. Secondly, how did he find out his wife was related to Candyman and why did he care so much to the point of obsession? Supposedly Annie’s father became extremely devoted to unraveling the Candyman mystery as to who his descendants were and how to break the curse that kept him alive. Why though? Obviously the Candyman wasn’t bugging anyone in the family, Annie’s mother clearly kept her family ties a secret and refused to believe he was even real so I doubt she blabbed to her husband about her origins. Seriously? This whole plot basically hinges off of this man becoming obsessed over the Candyman legend, yet it makes absolutely no sense why this guy would give a sh*t. Was he bored and real picky on what hobby he decided to pick up, therefore, Candyman investigations struck his fancy?
The movie basically assumes because it is keeping our focus elsewhere then that means it doesn’t have to explain how those events with the father transpired, but anyone who actually puts in more than a second’s worth of thought would realize that any normal individual in the father’s position after finding out their wife was related to a person that a folk lore was based around would likely have a minimal reaction of, “well that’s neat” and go about their day without ever remotely wondering about the subject much ever again. So, again I ask, why did he care so much? The world may never know… And also not care.
In terms of the acting, for the most part, it’s fairly underwhelming. An awkward line delivery here and there while no one stands out as particularly all that good or bad. It’s as though everyone is mainly going through the motions so they can get through production as painlessly as possible. With the exception of Tony Todd, but we’ll get to his awesomeness later. For now, I would like to touch on when the acting goes from a flatline to delightfully over-the-top in a screaming match between actresses Kelly Rowan and Veronica Cartwright who play daughter and mother respectively. The vocal spat doesn’t last very long, but it is some of the only entertainment value I was able to dredge out of this slog fest.
Back to Where it All Started…
After the screaming match where Cartwright dies cross-eyed, I’m sorry, but it’s a goofy visual. Annie is chased out of the house by police under the impression that she is the true murder suspect, even though they have footage of an other worldly presence murdering someone on camera and the lead detective is fully aware of said evidence, I guess the rest of the police force weren’t privileged to that crucial information.
Leaving Annie with no choice other than to go back to where it all started… Her old house where apparently Candyman was originally born at. Okay. It also turns out that Annie has a little surprise waiting for her when she arrives to her old dilapidated home as it appears the student who was missing decided to hide out in that house for the last few days… For some reason hanging out with homeless crackheads was a more appealing idea than staying home reading comics and drawing more pictures of Tony Todd, I guess.
Upon this completely irrelevant revelation, Annie moves onto searching the old slave quarters in the back of the property in hopes to find the mirror containing Candyman’s spirit and break the curse forever; or at least until the studio demands a direct-to-video sequel and a remake, of course. Candyman intervenes our hero’s efforts by showing her a flashback of his origins… The origins that this movie has been reiterating countless times over already and has already spliced in footage of said flashback throughout the entire runtime. But whatever, we need to know for sure what exactly happened to Candyman even though we already know exactly what happened to him. Redundancy at its finest!
Despite Candyman’s pleading for Annie’s sympathy, she comes to her senses by grabbing the cursed mirror which so happens to be the only thing holding this old building up because everything starts to collapse once she has removed it from its resting place on a muddy and boney wall. For unknown reasons, Candyman this whole time simply does nothing to try and stop Annie from essentially killing him. All he does is pose intimidatingly at her while she basically performs whatever actions she wants in order to stop him. It’s quite sad and makes no sense why all of the sudden he’s completely powerless against her since with one slash of his hook and she’s done for. This is what happens when writers write themselves into a corner with no way out.
Stupid Jump Scare Ending
Years have passed by since Annie defeated the Candyman and she is now caring for her young daughter, Caroline, named after her great-great-great grandmother. Maybe three greats, maybe more, maybe less. Who cares. As Annie tucks her little girl in for her afternoon nap, Caroline then grows the urge to try singing Candyman’s name five times in a mobile hanging over her bed which happens to be dangling a mirror. Annie jumps in with her music stinger to lazily startle the audience to interrupt the last uttering of his name. Cut to black. Credits. F*ck off, movie. What better way to end a hot garbage sequel than with one of the most forced and desperate attempts at scaring an audience in its exiting moments.
Candyman: Tony Todd
Typically I would touch on the lead’s performance immediately after discussing the story, however in this case, there really isn’t much more to discuss about actress Kelly Rowan or her role; other than the fact of her character being an uninspired attempt at physically recreating Helen from the original film. Tony Todd, on the other hand, oozes with charismatic terror. Seriously, he doesn’t have to do much, yet he commands the screen completely every single time he is in front of the camera. Again, his voice alone sends shivers down my spine because he is an imposing presence as the titular Candyman. Todd proves once more that he can be a scary figure, regardless if the movie itself is not even remotely scary.
Not to mention, Tony actually gets to show off some of his terrific acting skills within the flashback sequence. Granted, I still am of the mind that the flashback was entirely unnecessary, it is worth seeing for the sole purpose of witnessing how good Tony Todd is in this role. Striking sympathy for the spirit of a man who was wronged so horribly and transformed into a monster that people fear over a hundred years later as a consequence for simply falling in love. Candyman’s tragedy hits the heart and Tony Todd is on point with his chilling performance. Only problem is that this actor’s greatness is being exploited in a subpar sequel that more or less transitions the series into a run of the mill Slasher.
For the majority of the picture, I’d say the cinematography and effects look fine. Nothing special, but the gore usually was well handled with decent practical effects. With exception of one particular practical effect and the horrendous CGI used to “kill off” the Candyman. To touch on the lackluster practical effect I just referred to, there’s a point in the movie where our hero scratches Candyman’s face, her nails dig into his flesh as it opens up a swarm of bees from beneath. The concept is deliciously disgusting, only problem is the fake animatronic head they use to replace Todd’s face in close-up shots is so obviously fake and poorly lit that the scene becomes distracting rather than suspenseful. Unfortunate circumstance, especially when actor Tony Todd did have real bees crawling on his face for the medium shots, but that effect is ruined by the latex puppet they slapped together in a half hour.
Now to talk about the truly abysmal effect crafted through what seems to be some extremely early days of CGI. In the climax, as Annie cracks the curse mirror, Candyman himself also begins to break apart as though he were made of glass… It looks so bad. Again, the idea behind it sounds cool. The execution of the effect though was not properly crafted at all. The sequence itself appears as though the tech guys took a still shot of Tony Todd and implemented some glass models or images in order to create the effect. Then used a generic particle system to shatter the Candyman into a thousand pieces, which looks more like a late ‘90s screensaver instead of a Hollywood motion picture. Sadly either the technology was not ready or the artists were not capable. Regardless, we have an ugly demise for our main baddie.
The 1992 original score by Philip Glass makes a reprisal of sorts in Farewell to the Flesh. In my review of the first movie, I declared the musical score to be beautifully haunting and I loved every single note of it. I still do. However, when the score is constantly played on repeat with no real purpose while spliced with about three dozen jump scare music stingers, the music begins to lose all meaning and leave little impression. This is still a great score, yet this sequel is a prime example of how sound editing utilized poorly can ruin another artist’s hard work.
Farewell to the Flesh is a sequel to easily one of the best horror movies out of the 1990s and it does a piss poor job of following the legacy that is Candyman. The acting is filled with either people only on set for a paycheck or in some cases such as with Detective Ray Levesque played by David Gianopoulos, we get some fun camp to enjoy. Otherwise, Tony Todd is the only shining star in the entire cast. This is a sequel that is wholly uninterested in crafting a slow burn with provocative themes akin to the original film. This is a mediocre Slasher without a soul. If there was more thought and care put into the writing or at the very least some energy injected into the tone, this could have been scary or exciting or something other than the snooze fest that it mostly stacks up as being. The effects are admittedly passable, mostly. The music, of course, is among some of the greatest horror has to offer; although terribly edited within the scenes themselves. All around a forgettable experience that lets down its great predecessor.
Stay tuned for a review of the final entry of the Candyman franchise very soon!
That’s All Folks…
Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh… It’s certainly a movie. What did you think though? Like or dislike? Agree or disagree? Wonder how many stings it takes to get to the center of a tootsie Todd? The world may never know. Comment down below anyways! Also, if you so happened to have enjoyed my review then please do me a favor and share this article around the social media world. Thank you all so much for reading and have yourselves a buzzing good day!
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2020 John Plocar