Is Jordan Peele’s New ‘Candyman’ Movie a Reboot or a Sequel?

You just can’t keep a good horror franchise down. In recent years, just about every series from the 1970s and 1980s has been revisited in some form. Yet, while fans debate how worthy the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, and countless other remakes and reboots are, the time has come to begin checking in on 1990s horror.

Case in point, fans of 1992’s Candyman are in for a treat when a new installment hits theaters on June 12, 2020. Director Nia DaCosta made a big splash with her first feature, 2018’s Little Woods. Now she’s taking the leap to franchise filmmaking. But is the new Candyman a sequel to what’s come before or a fresh start?

Jordan Peele at the 'Hunters' premiere
Jordan Peele at the ‘Hunters’ premiere | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Another horror franchise returns

The original 1992 film follows a graduate student named Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen). During her studies, she discovers the urban legend of the Candyman (Tony Todd), a vengeful spirit who is summoned when you say his name five times.

Providing a new twist to the slasher genre, Candyman became a critical and commercial hit. Against a reported production budget of $8 million, the film grossed more than $25 million domestically. Two sequels followed, but neither was very successful.

Moreover, both 1995’s Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh and 1999’s Candyman: Day of the Dead abandoned the original’s storyline. Rather, they are both standalone tales that tap into the Candyman legend. Todd returns as the character in both. But even fans of the original film concede the sequels were more lackluster than not.

There’s a new ‘Candyman’ in town

That, of course, leaves the new Candyman with an interesting dilemma. DaCosta and her team could have either leveraged the Candyman legend to tell their own new story. Or they could have opted to devise one that acknowledges the three preceding films. In the end, the new film appears to be a bit of both.

In an increasingly popular approach among the horror community, the 2020 Candyman will serve as a sequel to the first film. Like other popular “legacyquels,” the film builds on the mythology set up in the 1992 edition while spinning off into its own thing.

For instance, Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) — who encountered the Candyman as an infant in the 1992 film — is the main character this time around. In the new trailer, he is even haunted by the specter. Todd, as well as the character of Helen Lyle, will also make appearances in the new film. And fans are speculating whether the 2020 Candyman amounts to a passing-of-the-torch ending with Anthony as the new Candyman.

Jordan Peele has the Midas touch

Horror sequels and reboots, as we alluded earlier, tend to be a mixed bag. But one thing steadying fans’ concerns about the new Candyman is the involvement of Jordan Peele. The filmmaker serves as a producer and co-writer on the film, which fans know taps deeply into the African-American history.

After Get Out and Us, Peele has developed a tremendous amount of goodwill from horror fans. His ability to infuse scares with black comedy and social commentary is nearly unparalleled today. And after his successful relaunch of The Twilight Zone, Peele has even proven he knows how to dust off an old property for today’s audiences.

So anticipation is high for the new “spiritual sequel” to the original Candyman. If the film is a hit, Universal might wind up pursuing a new franchise accordingly. After The Invisible Man and now Candyman, the studio is well on its way to reclaiming its status as the go-to studio for monster movies.

Candyman hit theaters on June 12, 2020.