Fair warning: If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the protests against police brutality that continue to rage across the U.S., then the content of this teaser for Candyman may very well chill you to the bone. Rarely have we seen any kind of “film promotion” that has tapped into such a raw and relevant nerve as this.
Director Nia DaCosta first shared the new teaser on Twitter—a 2 minute, 45-second sequence of shadow puppetry that shows, in excruciating detail, some of the real-life atrocities that have been visited on black Americans. Those crimes range from the real deaths of black American such as 14-year-old George Stinney, the youngest person to ever be sentenced to death in the electric chair in 1944, to the tragic tale of the titular Candyman himself, Daniel Robitaille, first seen in the 1992 original film by Bernard Rose. The origin of the slasher-killer is once again seen here, as the painter and son of a slave is lynched by a white mob for having an affair with a white woman.
The new Candyman from DaCosta, the director of Little Woods, dives back into the original story in the current day, with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II playing a fellow painter who researches the story of the Candyman killings in Chicago’s infamous Cabrini Green projects. The official synopsis is as follows:
For as long as the residents can remember, the housing projects of Chicago’s Cabrini Green neighborhood were terrorized by a word-of-mouth ghost story about a supernatural killer with a hook for a hand, easily summoned by those daring to repeat his name five times into a mirror. In the present day, a decade after the last of the Cabrini towers were torn down, a visual artist named Anthony McCoy and his girlfriend and a gallery director named Brianna Cartwright moved into a luxury loft condo in Cabrini, now gentrified beyond recognition and inhabited by the upwardly mobile millennials. With Anthony’s painting career on the brink of stalling, a chance encounter with a Cabrini Green old-timer exposes Anthony to the tragically horrific nature of the true story behind the Candyman. Anxious to maintain his status in the Chicago art world, Anthony begins to explore these macabre details in his studio as fresh grist for paintings, unknowingly opening a door to a complex past that unravels his own sanity and unleashes a terrifyingly viral wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with destiny.
The puppet teaser, meanwhile, must be seen to be believed. Check it out below, but be warned there’s an uncomfortable amount of truth to this story.