CANDYMAN: 4 STARS
There is nothing sweet about the Candyman.
The supernatural killer with a hook for a hand, first played by Tony Todd in the 1992 film of the same name, returns in now-theatrical “Candyman,” cropped by co-producer and co-writer Jordan Peele for a new generation .
In this “spiritual sequel”, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II of “Watchmen” plays artist Anthony McCoy, a visual artist who grew up in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood of Chicago. Almost three decades ago, Candyman, a vengeful spirit with a hook for a hand, summoned by anyone brave enough to repeat their name five times in a mirror, terrorized the region.
The towers that Anthony and his family lived in are gone, demolished in the name of gentrification. Anthony and his partner, gallery director Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris), take their place among the trendy millennials who now live in luxury lofts at Cabrini-Green.
Anthony’s career as a painter does not go well when a longtime resident of the area, William Burke (Colman Domingo) tells him about the urban myth (or is it true?) Of Candyman.
“Candyman is not a he,” says William. “Candyman is the whole damn hive. Samuel Evans, dilapidated during the white housing riots of the 1950s. William Bell, lynched in the 20s. But the first, where it all began, the story of Daniel Robitaille. He made a good living traveling the country making portraits for wealthy families. Mostly white. And they loved it. But you know how it goes. They like what we make, but we don’t. They beat him, tortured him. They cut off his arm and stuck a meat hook in the stump. But a story like that. Pain like that. Lasts forever. It’s Candyman. Candyman is how we deal with the fact that these things are happening. That they always happen.
Anthony finds inspiration in the story, but as he delves into Candyman’s macabre world, he unwittingly opens up a passage for supernatural terror and violence that transforms his body, mind, and exposes his own personal connection to the legend.
“Candyman” is a horror movie, but it’s not just about getting the hair on the back of your neck to stand on end.
The greatest horror isn’t just about the scares. “Frankenstein,” for example, is enriched with ideas of raging science and technology, “The Wolf Man” examines the polarities of good and evil within each of us, and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” has compelling things to say. on mass hysteria.
“Candyman” is a chilling and timely reinterpretation of a classic horror film character that places the story in a context ripped from the headlines.
A study of trauma in the black community, “Candyman” expands the scope of the original to suggest that the Candyman is not singular. In the new movie, William says, “Candyman is the whole beehive,” depicting all of the black men who have been lost to racial violence.
The theme is front and center, but director (and co-writer) Nia DaCosta isn’t afraid of body horror – Anthony’s transformation includes memorable nail horror and more – or violence. by Candyman. The murders are suitably gory, often shot in interesting ways, like through the mirror of a make-up compact that has fallen to the floor. It’s brutally elegant and never forgets to add a dose of horror with its story.
“Candyman” is a successful film on two levels, as a commentary on the echoes of historical racism that we can hear today and as a horror film that will scare you.
FRIENDS HOLIDAY: 3 ½ STARS
“Vacation Friends”, a crass and steamy new comedy now airing on Disney +, is a riff on the old adage: “Everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” But instead of Vegas, the setting is Mexico, and instead of leaving bad behavior behind, Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) and Nancy (Anna Maria Horsford) would like to leave their new “friends” Ron (John Cena) and Kyla ( Meredith Hagner) behind.
Construction boss Marcus wants to surprise his girlfriend Nancy with a marriage proposal at a posh Mexican resort. To set the scene, he reserves a beautiful hotel room, iced champagne and pedals of roses scattered around the room. Unfortunately, the big surprise is something he didn’t foresee, a flood. The upstairs jacuzzi of the Presidential Suite overflowed, turning Marcus and Nancy’s dream vacation bedroom into a soggy wasteland.
With no other rooms available, the couple accept an offer to sleep with complete strangers Ron and Kyla, the party-goers in the Presidential Suite. The two couples are poles apart. Marcus and Nancy are quite conservative about the thrill-seeking Ron and Nancy who line their Margueritas with cocaine. They are brought together by the circumstances, but a few liters of tequila later, they are all “vacation friends”, and the Mexican adventure ends with a night of wild blackout.
“You are in our lives now,” Ron says as they part ways at the airport. “Nothing can change that. I will remember this week forever.
Marcus and Nancy, however, don’t feel the connection. “They, we’re kinda fun on vacation,” says Marcus, “but not in the real world. “
The real world includes the high-end wedding Marcus and Nancy organize with the financial help of Nancy’s seriously injured parents. Ron and Kyla aren’t on the guest list… but that doesn’t stop them from bringing their own chaos to Marcus and Nancy’s big day.
“Vacation Friends” is a sweet film about friendship, but a lot more racy than the usual Disney + fare. Drugs and alcohol are the foundation of Ron and Kyla’s vacation lifestyle, so this one isn’t for the kids, even though it’s on the Mickey Channel.
Grownups, however, should get a slight kick out of the couple buddy comedy. Howery and Horsford are the foundation of the film, Cena and Hagner the jokers. Together, the set plays out on each other, creating a fun sitcom that takes advantage of the male character of Cena and Marcus who is closely injured by Howery. Hagner pulls some of the biggest laughs with Kyla’s contempt for the intricacies of polite society.
“Vacation Friends” is light, yet sweet, and should provide a well-deserved real-life getaway.
UNTIL DEATH: 3 ½ STARS
Megan Fox’s new thriller “Till Death,” now on VOD, sees an unhappy woman waking up one morning, handcuffed to her soon-to-die husband Mark (Eoin Macken). Like an unholy blend of “Sleeping with the Enemy,” “Weekend at Bernie’s,” and “Saw,” it’s a study on the toll of emotional abuse and the resilience needed to overcome it.
Before the handcuffs and the literal interpretation of the marriage vow “Until Death Do Us Part”, Emma (Fox) feels trapped in a loveless marriage. But as her eleventh wedding anniversary approaches, she ends the relationship she has behind her husband lawyer back with her partner Tom (Aml Ameen) and accepts Mark’s invitation for a weekend to to work on their relationship.
“Things have gone wrong between us,” he said, “and I’m sorry. “
At first, the weekend seems to be heading towards healing the scars that mar their marriage. But things take a dark turn when Emma wakes up hung over and handcuffed to Mark as he shoots himself in the head. Connected to her corpse, Emma finds herself a pawn in a dangerous game of survival.
“I have been chained to this nightmare all day!”
“Till Death,” one of five films Fox has planned to release for the 2021/22 season, begins like a hundred other thrillers. A bad marriage, a vague unease and a distant place. So what if Fox appears to be on autopilot in the opening minutes of the movie? There’s a hint of neo-noir action in the air.
It takes around twenty-five minutes, but by the time Mark blows his head, filling the air with a bloody haze, the movie finally stands out as the bad job that it is. It also gives Fox the opportunity to go from selfless to engaged, as director SK Dale allows him to shed the dead weight of the story (literally) and shine. She delivers a fun performance that’s more subtle than the film’s main metaphor of a late toxic husband as a literal anchor or ball and chain.
“Till Death” is a simple survival movie. When two attackers (Callan Mulvey and Jack Roth) from Emma’s past arrive as part of Mark’s master plan to terrorize her, she must muster all the courage she has shown after years of accumulated frustration to stay alive. There aren’t many twists and turns that you won’t see coming, but the fluid direction, tense score, self-deprecating tone, and Fox’s study of resilience should deserve the movie for survival horror fans. .
THEY SURROUNDING US: 3 STARS
“They Around Us,” which now stars in theaters and stars Troy Ruptash, who also stars as Roman, is a melancholy tale of intergenerational trauma.
The film opens in 1943 as German soldiers invade the Ukrainian village of seven-year-old Roman, killing everyone. With his mother and little brother by his side, the terrified Roman fled into the woods, the soldiers chasing him. When they reach a river, Roman is told to hide, the baby is placed in the river to float while the mother meets her fate.
Cut in 1987. Roman built a farming life with his wife Kalyna (Vera Graziadei) and eight-year-old son Mykola (Daniel Mazepa). Tragedy returns in his life when Kalyna is killed in a farm accident, leaving him the grieving single father with a business to run.
“Go with God,” his local priest told him. “God is always with you.”
“Where was God two weeks ago? ” he asks.
As old memories flood his head, Roman collapses. He hits the bottle and sees visions of German soldiers shouting “find the boy!” He hears gunshots in the distance and imagines his mother in the woods. As her behavior escalates, becoming more and more erratic, Mykola is placed in the care of her aunt Natalia, played by Ali Liebert. With the help of his family and his church, Roman’s fog of grief slowly lifts and he is able to find a new way to live his life.
“They are going to beat us and try to destroy us,” Roman remembers of his long lost uncle Stefan (Michael Sech). “Some of us will die, but we will rebuild our lives.”
“They Around Us” is a low-key examination of the effects of intergenerational trauma. But just as he examines the effects of great personal tragedy on life, he also emphasizes the healing power of community. Roman discovers that he is not an island, that the very people he tried to push back would become his salvation. It’s an uplifting, perhaps underestimated, message that crowns a film that slowly and carefully details Roman’s pain.
“They Around Us” is a deliberate film, in its slow pace and thoughtful performance that may move too slowly for some viewers, but offers subtle rewards for those who take the turn.