“Don’t say his name.”
Jordan Peele reimagines the titular character of the classic Candyman horror series with his own film of the same name.The omnipresent, supernatural anti-hero preys on characters who say his name five times while looking in the mirror. He has a hook for a hand, superhuman height, fascination with bees, and a deep, eerie voice. And after seeing the film’s first official trailer, I’m shaking, looking over my shoulder, and wondering how to tell you about it without conjuring the urban legend myself.
The Knockturnal attended the press presentation and livestream where filmmakers previewed the trailer. There, Peele introduced Director Nia DaCosta and himself as geeks for Bernard Rose’s adaptation of the Candyman tale, which debuted in 1992 and was followed by two sequels. “It was one of the few movies that explored the black experience in horror [genre],” said Peele, whose new version stacks black leads and actors in both the trailer and movie. And as noted by DaCosta, Rose’s film atypically features a black person who makes it to the end of a horror film.
DaCosta, Peele, and Monkeypaw Productions partner, Win Rosenfeld, wrote the screenplay taking cues from Rose and his use of the Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago. Rose was the one who brought the story to Chicago when its basis—Clive’s Barker original short story on the urban legend in 1985—took place in the UK.
Nonetheless, both Barker and Rose hit a soft spot for a notable Monkeypaw Productions technique in horror—a social issue posing as another monster. Like past versions, modern filmmakers used Candyman to highlight real-life gentrification issues where they set their story. Cabrini-Green was a housing project of northwest Chicago where buildings and high-rises faced decades-long demolition, abandonment, lack of upkeep, increased crime, and threats from developers—forcing inhabitants elsewhere in the city. “What we do in our film is talk about the ghosts that are left behind because of gentrification—and in particular Cabrini-Green,” said DaCosta, “and that’s how we find our way into our, our reimagining.”
Thirty years later, the high-rises of the real-life Cabrini-Green no longer exist, compared to Rose’s adaptation. That fueled an additional angle for modern screenwriters. The present-day adaptation centers around a visual artist and his girlfriend as a ghost story breaches life in their luxury Chicago condo. The film stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and Colman Domingo. No word yet on how, if even so, we’ll see 1992 lead Tony Todd in the latest version. The director declined to give details surrounding those rumors.
DaCosta said that the goal of the new version was to “be audacious, be fun, but also be meaningful.” Besides social awareness, the director promised some gore. “There’s a really good amount of things you don’t wanna see but I make you look at.”
Being such a cult classic, the team for the new interpretation drew in creatives from Universal Pictures, Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures, BRON Creative, and Monkeypaw Productions. Ian Cooper joined Peele and Rosenfield in producing. Executive producers include David Kern, Aaron L. Gilbert, and Jason Cloth.
Candyman is set to debut in theaters on June 12, 2020. Catch a preview of the supernatural uprise in the new trailer below, soundtracked by a chilling rendition of “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child. This news update is brought to you by only four—never five—mentions of…nevermind.