Summary: Rotten Tomatoes

Skeptical graduate student Helen Lyle befriends Anne-Marie McCoy while researching superstitions in a housing project on Chicago’s Near North Side. From Anne-Marie, Helen learns about the Candyman, a knife-wielding figure of urban legend that some of her neighbors believe to be responsible for a recent murder. After a mysterious man matching the Candyman’s description begins stalking her, Helen comes to fear that the legend may be all too real.

Nerd Corner:

[The articles I primarily cite are “You don’t belong here, lady” – Candyman and the White Saviour as it appeared in HOME,  Candyman is a Rare Great Horror that Explains Why Great Horror is So Rare from Audiences Everywhere, and an interview with Nia DaCosta that ran in Little White Lies.]

Not starting with director intent- start with two general readings of the film

  • this is an uncritical depiction of a white woman just doing her best to navigate an unjust world and sacrificing everything to help those less fortunate
  • dissection of the white savior trope- we see the white woman doing harm as she does the white feminist walk of recognizing oppression without doing anything to change the material circumstances. She still loses everything, obviously, but in this one she’s not the hero.

In an interview with Little White Lies Nia DaCosta said:

That film is a product of its time. I love Bernard’s work and I think he did such a great job with the first film but it’s definitely told from an outsider’s point of view. To expand the racial politics and reimagine this story’s continuation a lot of it was about shifting the point of view. Being a Black director I was able to look at this story and do something new with it, something more expansive, that was very important to me. But for me when I first saw the film I wasn’t really thinking of the racial politics, I was thinking, ‘Oh my god there’s a scary guy that lives in the projects’. When I watched it again I was could see there were so many different lenses through which you can watch this movie, through a feminist lens, through a white feminist lens, through the lens of race and gentrification and I wanted to expand on all of that. (Latif, 2021)


One article says it is “rich with an insightful social and racial subtext; Candyman comes to represent a personification of the (white) mainstream’s heartless demonization of Black people, particularly those in the inner cities, whilst Helen’s thoughtless, relentless probing into the lives of the residents of Cabrini-Green (where the killings are taking place) amounts to a keen indictment of the white saviour complex troublingly prevalent in discussions of race. (Shaar, 2020)

The ghost of Candyman is, after all, a selfish monster willing to disembowel innocent persons of color and to unleash torture, imprisonment, and a sort of self-serving damnation on a potential ally. His expression of anger isn’t serving any brand of justice that would be useful to the contemporary recipients of the same violent and systemic oppression that took his life. Rather, Candyman’s supernatural projection echoes the continued scream of hate and inhumanity started by America’s white European settlers that has continually poisoned the ability of our nation to grow beyond its original sins of slavery and genocide. In this sense, the march upon Helen’s funeral might best register not as support or protest, but a demand for recognition of the immeasurable and seemingly unstoppable evil that moves from our history into our contemporary inner cities. In a way, Candyman isn’t the ghost of a murdered slave’s son, but the ghost of the murder itself. (2017 Shreve)

Kate Notes:

Organ music with spooky choir. I do love a spooky choir

Hella bees 

Why does it have to be four tiny screens all stacked.

They’ll never know that I have a small tv if I STACK THEM. 

Gillian Anderson lookalike, Stephen Fry lookalike

I love how all the male college students have earrings 

Why didn’t you ASK if you can record? 

Trevor jumps into bed scaring her senseless. It’s late and I’m smashed, so let me ignore your boundaries and really prove how little I can understand what it’s like to be a woman. 

The kids have the best windbreakers

Hold on let me take a picture of the stairwell so I can prove that I’m a tourist. 

No but I’d love one. I won’t steal your baby, promise. 

Can’t fix that, better off dead. 

The actor that played Jake is everything. 

Helen is mad that the cops didn’t take the people seriously, so that’s enough. She’s not a meddling white woman now that she expressed dissatisfaction with the injustice in the system.

The photos of them together juxtaposed with her tragedy and his disloyalty. 

Enhance, enhance, enhance


Sweet Bernadette. 🙁 Bernie NO


Trevor remembering how well Helen cooked juxtaposed with the bitter student. How hard must it be to be a white man who abandoned your wife and had an inappropriate relationship with your student. 


And Then John Was a Zombie– the protagonist is transformed (literally) into the monster that they fought so desperately for the rest of the movie or show. This is different from the trope “he who fights monsters” which is more metaphorical. In this case, they’re bitten by a zombie, werewolf, vampire, etc. OR they’re killed escaping a giant pyre where they were held captive by a hook handed entity who was created through belief. 

The Trope Namer is an infamous bad short fanfiction called DOOM: Repercussions of Evil, which ends with the protagonist, named John, suddenly turning into a Zombie with no explanation whatsoever.

(throwback to Ur Example, Trope Codifier, Trope Maker!)


The Bee Bee Gun comes a few varieties, such as:

An actual gun that shoots bees.

A special ability to control bees.

A character that is actually made of bees.

The simple act of lobbing a beehive, a wasp nest or a jar or bottle filled with the insects at someone else.

Dogs with bees in their mouths so when they bark they shoot bees at you.

A subtrope of Living Weapon — specifically Attack Animal, if the bees are actually trained for combat purposes. If the bees are being shot like bullets from a gun, it overlaps with Abnormal Ammo. Often hits Somewhere, an Entomologist Is Crying, because real bees often do not work that way. (direct quote, tvtropes)



Works Cited:

Jenkins, Jason. (2021, August 23). Candyman Director Bernard Rose Details Unmade Sequel in More Depth Than Ever Before [Exclusive]. Bloody Disgusting.


Beresford, Jack. (2021, October 1). Candyman: How Bernard Rose and Clive Barker Created the Horror Classic. Den of Geek.


Shaar, Nuala. (2020, October 21). “You don’t belong here, lady” – Candyman and the White Saviour. HOME.


Shreve, D. (2017, October 5). Candyman is a Rare Great Horror that Explains Why Great Horror is So Rare. Audiences Everywhere.


Latif, Laila. (2021, August 22). Nia DaCosta: ‘Candyman turns the white-saviour narrative on its head’. Little White Lies.


Cipolla, Matt. (2020, February 27). The True Villain of “Candyman” Isn’t the Urban Legend Himself—It’s Helen. The Spool.