The Writing on the Wall- Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh
This is stage two on my ill thought out Candyman trilogy, and already the writing is really on the wall for this series. Candyman 2 is one of the more staggeringly unnecessary and pointless cash in sequels, and it commits pretty much every cardinal sin of cashing in. I’ll go over this in more depth in a minute, but I just want to get across how utterly soulless, mundane, and mediocre this film is. While Farewell to the Flesh is not a terrible film (everything is very competent) it is, however, filmic beige: a completely uninspired effort.
Funnily enough, it all starts fairly promisingly. The sleazy professor from the first movie opens the film giving a lecture on Helen and the Candyman. This is a storming idea- a nice way to recap and remind everyone of the pedigree of the film. He’s then harassed by a confused and clearly loopy young man, who blames the professor for his father’s death at the hands of everyone’s favourite hook handed sociopath. The professor is then messily slaughtered by the Candyman. The rest of the film is basically a shitty rehash of the worst idea of the first film, a couple of new ideas (all bad ones), a fucking origin story (Why? Seriously, why did anyone think this was a good idea?), a smug and anti-atmospheric voiceover, and a terrible CGI ending.
So far, so unpromising. However, I do have to say that (and this is really surprising), the acting in this sequel is absolutely top-notch. Kelly Rowan (despite complete lack of a Noo Awlins accent) is perfectly watchable as Annie, and Tony Todd is on fine menacing form as the Candyman, but the scene stealing goes to Veronica Cartwright as Annie’s mother, Octavia. How the fuck did this happen? She was great in Alien, good in The Witches of Eastwick and generally has a fine horror pedigree, and yet she’s lending a cash-in some much-needed credibility. It’s a shame, but still she does give an underwritten part her best effort.
The score (aside from the intensely annoying voice over from “The Kingfisher”) is a recreation of Glass’s effort from the first film, and as such is effective- even if it is uninspiring in this case. However, the narrative from the Kingfisher, which is clearly meant to immerse us in atmosphere as thick as Gumbo fluctuates between the laughable and the irritating, and his constant intrusions serve as little more than patronising book ends. Whoever decided on this device needs a good kicking, as Candyman films require atmosphere and this narration consistently yanked me out of the film.
Now here’s where we get to the problems with this film. Before I go any further, I’m going to address them in reverse order of irritation- (least irritating first).
Firstly- this is a film that absolutely shits all over the far-superior original (much like The Descent 2). I do understand that the natural home of a ghost as clearly rooted in slavery as the Candyman is the Deep South, but the transplant to New Orleans just doesn’t work, and worse than that it was specifically fucking stated in the first film that he was executed on Cabrini Green. What we have here is a ghost that loves his frequent flyer miles.
Secondly- the introduction of the magic mirror. Why do this? The legend was well established and worked effectively, so all of a sudden his power comes from some fucking mirror at the bottom of a mine, and therefore you can break it to break the spell. Just fuck off.
Thirdly, there are plot holes and “Eeeeeew” moments aplenty. It turns out, for reasons best known to the writers, that Annie is actually the Candyman’s great great granddaughter. Or some such pish. If that’s the case, then I suggest you don’t cast someone as lily-fucking-white as Kelly Rowan as Annie. Furthermore, considering he spends half the film trying to persuade her to marry him, it’s clear that his time dead has made him into a family fucking pervert. I know it is set in the deep south, but what the fuck?
Fourthly, fucking origin stories. Seriously, why? As is already pointed out, the legend was well established and well realised. Do we honestly need to see poor old Daniel Robitaille tortured to death for kicks on-screen? There’s only 2 rational explanations as to why this decision was made: the writers either want the audience to feel sympathy for The Candyman (in which case having him slaughter all and sundry with a hook is probably not the best way to go about it), or, and this is my guess, they flagrantly didn’t have enough material to make up the run time. Either way, it’s piss poor unnecessary claptrap.
Finally, and this is my big complaint, there is the driving force of the plot. The biggest mistake in the first film was to have Helen as some kind of spitting image of Candyman’s original love and therefore he was some sort of really persistent stalker. This was a mistake in the first film, as the actual motivation was already established and effective- it over-egged the pudding, but here this intergenerational love story is the driving force of the movie. Needless to say it just doesn’t work. There’ s no reason to believe in some kind of tragic fate for the Candyman, as he’s a ghost that kills people messily with a hook. He’s the embodiment of the power of legend, he isn’t sitting in a dark room listening to “Boys Don’t Cry” pining for his long lost love Annie. He’s a big, nasty villain, and this insistence on his emotional needs (the third film follows this path as well) just dilutes and lessens an otherwise iconic character.
Overall, it may come as a shock to find out that I don’t recommend Candyman 2. In fact, until reminded of it for this trilogy, I had completely forgotten it existed. It’s a lame cash-in that dilutes the original, commits several cardinal sins and for all its obvious competence manages to mildly irritate me.
Jarv’s Rating: 1 and a half Changs. Shouldn’t have happened and deserves to be forgotten.
Next up in this trilogy is the fucking abysmal concluding part.