Character Study: “Candyman”

“Candyman” (Daniel Robitaille)


Tony Todd as “Candyman” (1992)

Name: “Candyman” (Daniel Robitaille)
Film or Book: Candyman
Role: Villain

If you haven’t seen the movie “Candyman” and don’t want it spoiled, there are some mild spoilers/film details that I discuss below, just as an FYI.

What I learned about characterization:

  • Okay, so the hook and the ‘hey, here’s what the inside of my body looks like’ aspects of the Candyman character were unsettling and disturbing, but I found it even more disturbing to play with the audience’s expectations of how Candyman is introduced.
  • When the protagonist, Helen, meets Candyman who turns out to be all but too real–that deep, gravelly voice. His words. The way that Helen cannot look away from him. What an entrance!
  • To add to the previous point, there’s a lot of build up that happens in the film before Helen actually meets the real Candyman, which only served to increase the viewer’s tension and fear
  • The Candyman has a hypnotic on-screen presence and a lure that I as a viewer couldn’t look away from while being worried for Helen at the same time
  • The imagery of the painting/graffiti in the Cabrini-Green apartment complex where Helen looks for the Candyman was startling and very visceral on a visual level(see below)
  • Although I wanted the Candyman to go down and for Helen to defeat him, as a viewer he struck a chord of sympathy in me when revealing his terrible and tragic past as the son of a slave whose only “crime” was the colour of his skin and the ignorant murderers who sent him to his death in what has to be one of the most cruellest, barbaric ways to kill a human being (if you haven’t seen his death scene, see it, but be aware that I think it’s one of the most graphic and disturbing in film history).
candyman mural
the mural depicting Candyman in the Cabrini-Green apartment housing complex

The funny thing about Candyman is that I initially dismissed it as one of those horror slasher films I’d always heard of growing up, and that I was vaguely aware of, but I was never interested in it because I assumed it was like all the other cliche-ridden serial killer slasher films out there, which I’m generally none too fond of (they just don’t do it for me). But when I found out that it was based on one of the Books of Blood by Clive Barker, that inspired me to take a closer look right away.

Adding to my interest was reading in a description of the film that the Candyman was the son of a former slave. I knew I had to watch the film and to get better acquainted with the story. It’s one of the most memorable films I’ve seen to date. The Candyman embodies the notion that a viewer can absolutely want a villain to get his comeuppance and for someone to stop him because what he’s doing is terrible but we can also sympathize with him and be intrigued by what happened to him at the same time. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it. Not to mention Tony Todd, the actor who played Candyman, is a badass mofo 😉

Social Media Break Update: I’m finding that I’ve started to lose that irritating itch or compulsion that people have to constantly check their profiles every five seconds and that far from feeling like I’m “missing out”, I actually feel that ignorance is bliss and it’s nice not to feel pressured to “keep up” with everything that’s going on.