Yahya Abdul-Mateen discusses Candyman, a 'spiritual sequel' to the '90s original

Candyman (2020)
(Image credit: Universal)

Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman... Watch yourself, we've summoned him. For the new issue of Total Film, we spoke to the creatives behind the new Candyman, a "spiritual sequel" to the iconic 1992 original. 

Leading the new movie is Yahya Abdul-Mateen, best known for his roles in Jordan Peele's Us and HBO's Watchmen series. We know surprisingly little about his Candyman role, so we asked the actor about his character Anthony McCoy, a painter living in Chicago.

"He came out of art school and was hailed as the next big thing," says Abdul-Mateen. "We find him a while after that moment has slipped his grasp and he’s looking for inspiration. He goes back to Cabrini-Green looking for a story. Things start to happen around him that he’s drawn to for some odd reason. It puts a strain on his professional relationships and his personal relationships."

If you paid close attention to what Abdul-Mateen was saying, you’d have noticed he said that Anthony “goes back to Cabrini-Green”, and this is where the “spiritual sequel” part comes in – Anthony was the baby who Candyman kidnapped and used as bait in the original movie. Now all grown up (and with this film wisely ignoring that 1995’s Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh and 1999’s Candyman: Day Of The Dead ever existed), he returns to the place that he was born, looking for inspiration. What he finds instead... well, let’s just say it’ll be a big hook to viewers.

Cabrini-Green is now a very different prospect to when the first movie was made. With major redevelopment carried out since the late ’90s, upscale high-rise buildings hold sway. “Gentrification is an act of modern violence,” says director Nia DaCosta, touching on one of her film’s main themes. “We explore how it affects Cabrini-Green and the people who live there.”

Abdul-Mateen agrees. “It’s a story about others, a story about outsiders versus insiders, about what happens when intruders come in and the consequences of that,” he says. “The threat of gentrification is a horror story in and of itself, with people being displaced, and all of a sudden the faces are different, and things that used to be easy and familiar become distant and challenging. It’s a great opportunity for Candyman to haunt new faces. What happens when the ghost stays, but the people who he haunts change? Is this monster motivated by the same things? And what’s the response to that?”

Candyman is set to open in cinemas on October 16, 2020. For much more on the film, grab a copy of the new issue of Total Film magazine – which hits shelves both real and digital from this Friday, August 21. 

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(Image credit: Total Film)

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Editor-at-Large, Total Film

Jamie Graham is the Editor-at-Large of Total Film magazine. You'll likely find them around these parts reviewing the biggest films on the planet and speaking to some of the biggest stars in the business – that's just what Jamie does. Jamie has also written for outlets like SFX and the Sunday Times Culture, and appeared on podcasts exploring the wondrous worlds of occult and horror.