Candyman is a 2013 American horror film starring Anne Hathaway, Giancarlo Esposito, Raffey Cassidy, and Wood Elijah Wood. It was directed by Guillermo del Toro and is based on the short story "The Forbidden " by Clive Barker, though the film's scenario is switched from England to the Cabrini–Green public housing development on New Orlean's Near North Side. The plot follows a graduate student completing a thesis on urban legends who encounters the legend of "Candyman", an artist and son of a slave who was murdered and his hand replaced with a hook.
The film also contains elements of psychological and paranormal horror, where the audience is able to see the main character and her perspectives as she transforms under duress. Candyman plays the role of a literal ghost, an illusion for people's actions, and a manifestation of fear.
The film was scored by Philip Glass. The film was met with critical acclaim and was a box office success. Candyman spawned two sequels, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh and Candyman 3: Day of the Dead, both directed by del Toro.
Helen Lyle (Anne Hathaway) is a graduate student conducting research for her thesis on urban legends, have a daughter, Claire Lyle (Raffey Cassidy), a shy and quiet girl who's the most talent artist made the painting portrait of Candyman/Daniel Robatille himself, then she's crush a boy named Michael (Flynn Morrison) the eldest son of Matthew and Trina, and had a younger brother, Tommy. While interviewing freshmen about their superstitions, she hears about a local legend known as Candyman. The legend contains many elements similar to the most well-known urban legends, including endangered babysitters, spirits who appear in mirrors when fatally summoned, and maniac killers with unnatural deformities. The legend claims that Candyman can be summoned by saying his name five times while facing a mirror (similar to the Bloody Mary folkloric tale), whereupon he will murder the summoner with his hook-hand. Later that evening, Helen and her friend Bernadette (Alice Braga) jokingly call Candyman's name into the mirror in Helen's bathroom but nothing happens, but Claire was tries to tell her mother about Candyman, she told her daughter that Candyman wasn't real, just having bad nightmares, send her to bed and sleep. Candyman in his demonic spirit form, came for Claire in her bedroom, hunting her nightmares, put them in his hypnosis mind control, and makes her and Michael as his slaves, and then her screaming that woke up her parents ran in her room, and calm her down.
Helen discovers that Candyman was the son of a slave, (Daniel Robatille) whose father became prosperous after developing a system for mass-producing shoes during the Civil War. Candyman grew up in polite society and became a well-known artist, sought after for his talent in producing portraits. After falling in love with a white woman (Caroline Sullivan) whom he impregnated, he was set upon by a lynch mob hired by his girlfriend's father, (Heyward Sullivan) who cut off his painting hand and replaced it with a hook. He was smeared with honey stolen from an apiary, prompting the locals to chant 'Candyman', and the bees stung him to death.
With her colleague Bernadette, Helen enters the notorious gang-ridden Louisiana housing project, the site of a recent unsolved murder, linked to Candyman. There, she meets Anne-Marie McCoy (Jada-Pinkett Smith), one of the residents, and a young boy named Jake (Tyler Jacob Williams), who tells her the disturbing story of a child who was castrated in a public restroom, supposedly by Candyman. While Helen explores the run-down restroom, a gang member attacks her: he carries a hook, and has taken the Candyman moniker as his own to enhance his "street cred". Helen survives the assault and is able to identify her attacker to the police.
Helen later faces the apparent real Candyman (Giancarlo Esposito), who explains that since Helen has been telling people he is just a legend, he must prove he exists, and Claire faint inside the car behind. Helen blacks out and wakes up in Anne-Marie's apartment, covered in blood. Anne-Marie, whose Rottweiler has been decapitated, and whose baby is also missing, attacks Helen and she is forced to defend herself, using a meat cleaver. The police then arrest Helen. Trevor (Elijah Wood), Helen's husband, bails her out of jail, but Candyman appears to Helen again, holding Clarie as his hostage and cuts her neck, causing her to bleed unconscious. Bernadette then arrives at the apartment, Candyman murders her and taking Clarie away. The police are called and Helen is sedated and is placed in a psychiatric hospital pending trial.
After a month's stay at the hospital, Helen is interviewed by a psychologist in preparation for her upcoming trial. While restrained, Helen attempts to convince the psychologist that the urban legend is indeed true by calling Candyman. Candyman appears, murdering the psychologist, and Helen is able to escape. She briefly confronts Trevor but he is now living with one of his female students. Helen then flees to New Orleans to confront Candyman and to locate Anne-Marie's still-missing infant and rescue her daughter. In an apartment's attic, she encounters the words "It was always you, Helen."
Candyman predicts that Helen will help carry on his tradition of inciting fear into a community, and promises to release the baby and let Clarie go if Helen agrees to sacrifice herself to protext her daughter and Micheal. However, Candyman, intending to sacrifice them to feed his own legend, takes both the baby, let Clarie and Michael go, spared their lives, and Helen into the middle of a massive junk pile, which the residents have been planning to turn into a bonfire. The residents believe Candyman is hiding inside the pile and set it a flame. Helen rescues the baby, but dies from burns in Clarie's arms the process. Candyman also burns in the fire, leaving only his hook-hand behind.
After Helen's funeral, in which the residents of Louisiana pay their respects, Trevor stands before a mirror in the bathroom of their former apartment. He chants Candyman's name in grief, summoning his vengeful spirit and tell him to leave his daughter alone. Candyman kills Trevor with his hook, leaving Trevor's new lover Stacey with his bloodied corpse as the urban legend continues. Clarie was raised by foster parents, her uncle Marcus, and cousins: Nathan and Marie.
The film ends as the credits roll over a painting of Helen with her hair ablaze on a wall in New Orleans, showing that she has now entered folklore.
- Anne Hathaway as Helen Lyle
- Giancarlo Esposito as Candyman
- Elijah Wood as Trevor Lyle
- Raffey Cassidy as Clarie Lyle
- Flynn Morrison as Michael Robinson
- Samuel Braun as Tommy Robinson
- Steven R. McQueen as Matthew Robinson
- Sara Paxton as Trina Robinson
- Jada Pinkett Smith as Anne-Marie McCoy
- Alice Braga as Bernadette "Bernie" Walsh
- Tylen Jacob Williams as Jake
- Toro Guillermo del Toro as Archie Walsh
- Ron Glass as Detective Frank Valeto
- Jason Alexander as Dr. Burke
- Tom Kenny as Billy
- Taylor Momsen as Clara
- Patton Oswalt as Harold
- Alex Borstein as Officer Linda
The film has a 72% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Allmovie praised the film, calling it "haunting, intelligent and poetic" and "the finest Barker adaptation ever committed to film".
The film also came in at number 75 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
The character Candyman came in at number 8 on Bloody Disgusting's "The Top 13 Slashers in Horror Movie History" and ranked the same on Ugo's "Top Eleven Slashers". The actor who played Candyman, Giancarlo Esposito, made #53 on Retrocrush's "The 100 Greatest Horror Movie Performances" for his role.