Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Candyman - English Language Review

(USA, 1992)

Directed by: Bernard Rose
Starring: Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Xander Berkeley

Rating: 4/5

One of my favorite horror movies is Bernard Rose's 1992 classic, "Candyman". Virginia Madsen stars as a urban legend researcher that begins to investigate a series of horrible murders committed in the projects, that the locals link to the legend of Candyman, a former slave with a hook instead of his right hand, that comes back from the grave to take revenge if you say his name five times in the mirror.

Although usually referred to as a slasher, and while definitely having its share of victims getting stabbed and sliced, "Candyman" doesn't follow the predictable pattern of most movies of that sub-genre. For the first 40 minutes or so, it is a very unsettling movie, although nobody gets killed. Instead, the director uses suggestion to put us in the same frame of mind as the characters. The rest of the movie is more predictable and less scary (as we find out Candyman is really a vengeful ghost, not a real vengeful killer), but it's still very enjoyable and well-made. Furthermore, there is a Hitchcock-ian thing to it. Although there is evidence against it, the appearances of Candyman could all be just a figment of Madsen's character's imaginations, as she begins to experience paranoia, fear and hallucinations. There's also a transfer of guilt going on that is integral to the story: the woman feels some sort of white guilt for what the people in the projects seem to go through and what happened to Candyman and the entire experience (which may all be inside her own head) is a way to get rid of this guilt; after she (spoiler!) dies at the end, her husband suddenly feels guilty for the way he treated her and is quickly punishes in one of the most thrilling surprise endings in horror.

I admit that the movie touches on sociological issues without really discussing them and only uses them as a pretext for a very well put together horror fantasy about individual and mass delusion, religion and the everyday paranoia of urban life. In the end, it would be unfair not to mention Philip Glass' music, which drives the plot forward and succeeds in being, at the same time, disturbing, mystical and emotional. 

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