Unwilling Martyrs: Nia Dacosta's Candyman
On June 17th 2020, Nia DaCosta (@NiaDaCosta) took to Twitter to share a brand new teaser (short film?) for Candyman (2020). The short utilizes paper puppets, which are crafted as haunting silhouettes and features a redux of the iconic Candyman theme.
The teaser brilliantly weaves the backstory of Daniel Robitaille along with the depiction of several real-world murders to powerful effect. Robitaille's backstory, set in the 19th century, is fictional, but nonetheless relevant. He was the son of a slave who had found a great deal of wealth through manufacturing shoes. Daniel became well-known for his talents. He was commissioned by a rich white man to complete a portrait of his young daughter. They soon fell in love, but the father was displeased by their interracial love affair and a lynch mob was sent after the painter. The mob smeared Robitaille's body with honey so that he would be swarmed and stung by bees. They also sawed off his right hand, replacing it with a hook. The legend tells that the vengeful spirit of Daniel Robitaille returns to kill those who speak the name that mocks the tragedy of his death... Candyman.
Along with the short, DaCosta shared this statement; "CANDYMAN, at the intersection of white violence and black pain, is about unwilling martyrs. The people they were, the symbols we turn them into, the monsters we are told they must have been".
We know that in DaCosta's spiritual sequel to Candyman (1992) the new character of Anthony McCoy, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, is an artist exploring the legend of the Candyman. It's unclear if this new teaser was made for marketing purposes or if it was lifted from the film itself, but it's a poignant work of art in and of itself.
Candyman (2020) is set to hit theaters September 25th of this year, but with the current state of COVID-19 pandemic in North America that release date remains in question. The film was directed and co-written by Nia DaCosta with Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld also credited for working on the screenplay. It stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett.
You can read more about the origin of Candyman as well as the history of the franchise here;