It is also about as close as you can get to an urban American equivalent to a folk horror piece. It is probably one of the most quintessentially Urban Wyrd movies ever made.
|Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman... Candyman.|
If you look in a mirror and say his name five times, so the story goes, he comes and guts you with his hook. An interviewee tells Helen the story of a babysitter and her boyfriend; of course, it's untraceable. But then, the black cleaning lady tells a very different version of the story, about how, over in the projects, someone was killed by Candyman and the woman in the apartment next door dialled 911 over and over again and no one ever came.
|Look where people don't look and you find something true.|
Helen is intrigued and decides to investigate further, and yes, people get killed by Candyman all the time, it seems. Although patronised by colleagues, including Helen's lecturer husband Trevor (Xander Berkeley), who Helen suspects is sleeping with his students, or maybe because of that, Helen and Bernie go to Cabrini Green, one of the most deprived places in Chcago (and which remained so, right up until its demolition in 2011) and between them they find the sites of more than one of the Candyman murders. They strike up acquantainces with a young woman named Ann-Marie (Vanessa Williams), who was the woman who called 911 in vain, and with a boy called Jake (DeJuan Guy), who tells the bloodcurdling story of a murdered boy.
|Into the murder room.|
Helen and Bernie even said the name five times in the mirror. He didn't come.
|Not the Candyman.|
Candyman: Your disbelief destroyed the faith of my congregation. Without them, I am nothing. So I was obliged to come. And now I must kill you. Your death will be a tale to frighten children. To make lovers cling closer in their rapture. Come with me and be immortal.
|Tony Todd plays the most romantic of body-horror villains.|
The second half of the film, Helen finds herself abandoned and betrayed. She wakes from a drugged stupor and stages a desperate escape, in one final attempt to save a baby who Candyman has stolen as a very special victim.
Candyman: Our names will be written on a thousand walls. Our crimes told and retold by our faithful believers.In fact, Helen Lyle's very name as a character links her to Candyman. In the UK, we forget that some things are strange. Take, for instance, Lyle's Golden Syrup.
|Yes, that's a dead lion.|
Candyman is literally a corpse made host for bees; Helen Lyle, his nemesis and desire, is the receptacle for his story. She's a tin for the syrup. Out of the strong comes sweetness.
|It was always you, Helen. It was always you.|
And it has one of the best endings of any horror film (an ending that the very existence of sequels detracts from, and if you're watching this film, do not watch the sequels, nor even accept their existence).
Much is made visually of Helen's swank apartment in a building that is nonetheless laid out and designed identically to Cabrini Green; she lives in a gentrified housing project. And the myth of Candyman is, we find at the start of a film, a gentrified myth. It is a story of race and class inequality from its inception, and it belongs to the black urban poor of Chicago, but it has been inhabited by giggly white suburban teens.
In the movie, a musical theme recurs, always at the most important, mythical parts of the story: it's called "It Was Always You, Helen." And when this line is finally spoken in the film, it resonates on every level. The ending, which I cannot spoil, but which is so good, is the ultimate expression of the story, and its most satisfying outworking. A legend needs a place, and it needs a vehicle.