Nia DaCosta’s Candyman is set to act as both a direct and spiritual sequel to the 1992 original, dealing with US race relations past and present. One of its stars, Colman Domingo, has praised the movie for not focusing on the trauma of its African American characters.
In the movie, Domingo plays William Burke, a longtime resident of Cabrini Green, the now-gentrified neighborhood of former housing projects that forms the setting of both films, and whose encounter with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Anthony McCoy sets the latter on the path of becoming embroiled in the titular legend.
Speaking to The New York Times, Domingo had this to say about the update’s refreshing attitude towards the depiction of black violence.
“I’ve been a proponent of saying I’m really a little exhausted with stories that are focused on Black trauma. That perpetuates a narrative – that’s the only way that the world sees us, as being abused and victimized. I love what Nia DaCosta has done in Candyman, which is that you never see any of the trauma onscreen. You never see a Black body being brutalized.”
Based on Clive Barker’s short story The Forbidden, the original Candyman was released in 1992 during a decade that was not, shall we say, renowned for its subtlety, particularly in relation to how black people were largely depicted on screen. During production, writer-director Bernard Rose met with representatives of NAACP, who reportedly dismissed producers’ concerns it was perpetuating harmful stereotypes. Nevertheless, it has garnered criticism over the years for precisely this, with some perceiving it as suggesting that black men are inherently a threat to white women, attitudes the new movie hopes to put a stop to.
From what’s been seen in the trailers it seems that despite the presented blood and gore, much of the movie’s horror will be psychological and any physical violence a secondary consideration, and by not visually portraying any brutality against black people it will better shift focus onto their characters rather than how they might die.
It’s not exactly controversial to suggest there is still a long way to go regarding how black people are depicted in most Hollywood movies, but Candyman, being produced, written and directed by members of the community it depicts and portraying such people as actual people, certainly seems to be moving the conversation a few steps in the right direction.