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Nia DaCosta's eerie and poetic new Candyman preview uses shadow puppets to tease its timely story

Illustration for article titled Nia DaCosta's eerie and poetic new Candyman preview uses shadow puppets to tease its timely story
Screenshot: Candyman

In a different, better world, we’d all have already seen Nia DaCosta’s anticipated Candyman, which was pushed from last weekend to late September due to COVID-19. Thankfully, the fear we took from the flick’s freaky trailer back in February has been stirred right back up thanks to a new preview DaCosta shared to her Twitter account on Wednesday. A symphony of shadow puppetry, it wordlessly teases her story with a blend of painful imagery, dread-soaked music, and timely resonance. Many have pointed out how the clip is evocative of the work of artist Kara Walker, who often explores race through silhouettes.


Candyman, at the intersection of white violence and black pain, is about unwilling martyrs,” DaCosta said in a post sharing the clip. “The people they were, the symbols we turn them into, the monsters we are told they must have been.”

Watch it below.

In elliptical fashion, the Candyman’s age-old lynching is juxtaposed against modern depictions of police brutality and systemic injustice, serving to form a bridge between the Candyman himself and Anthony, the visual artist played in DaCosta’s film by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

Candyman, which was penned by DaCosta, Jordan Peele, and Win Rosenfeld, explores topics of race, gentrification, and even toxic fandom in its revisitation of Bernard Rose’s 1992 original.

Read a synopsis below:

For as long as 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 present day, a decade after the last of the Cabrini towers were torn down, visual artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his girlfriend, gallery director Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris), move into a luxury loft condo in Cabrini, now gentrified beyond recognition and inhabited by upwardly mobile millennials.

With Anthony’s painting career on the brink of stalling, a chance encounter with a Cabrini Green old-timer (Colman Domingo) exposes Anthony to the tragically horrific nature of the true story behind Candyman,” reads a synopsis. “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 terrifying wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with destiny.


Candyman gets its hook in you on September 25. Revisit the original trailer below.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.