The visual design is incredibly appealing. Sets are creepy, rundown, rusted, filthy, and littered with graffiti; props are unnerving, the makeup is disturbingly realistic and the use of mirrors inherently nerve-rattling. Candyman himself might be slightly too reminiscent of Pinhead from Hellraiser (with his poetic whispers of exquisite pain and the gloriously dark afterlife), but this is somewhat expected. Clive Barker penned both original stories on which the films were based, this one from his short “The Forbidden.” He also served as executive producer. But there’s still plenty of commendable, suspenseful anticipation arising from the characters portraying genuine fear, long moments of silence, jump scares, jarring flashbacks, sudden cuts of frightening footage, slow motion, strobe lights, dream sequences, and a spectacular climax that addresses both creativity and an appropriate horror movie finale.
Director Bernard Rose isn’t afraid to make audiences wait, quite awhile in fact, to see the killer; or have startling scenes take place in broad daylight – Helen’s first encounter with the real Candyman is in a brightly lit parking garage - or even to kill victims off-screen (with gruesome sound effects as accompaniment). The story is highly original, the premise genuinely terrifying, and the acting superb, especially considering the genre. Virginia Madsen delivers the right amount of fear, hopelessness and determination to create a sympathetic heroine. The majority of the characters are also older and more mature, dispensing with the annoying trend of screaming teens running around in hysteria. But perhaps the strongest emotional additive is the morbid organ music, operatic chorus voices and eerily peaceful piano solos from composer Philip Glass, who gives the film an awe-inspiring atmosphere and attitude. Beginning a franchise of two additional features (neither remotely as impressive), Candyman is one of the most artistic, sophisticated slashers of all time.
- Mike Massie