Candyman Ending Explained: The Legend Lives On

"Candyman" is now in theaters, and the Nia DaCosta-helmed horror pic continues the story that began with the original 1992 film. And while this is a direct sequel, it also takes the story in new directions, concluding on a very different note than the original movie. With that in mind, let's take a look at the new "Candyman" ending and what it all means. 

As you might guess, this post contains major spoilers for the film. 

Looking For Candyman

"Candyman" kicks off in 1977, where we meet a kid named William Burke who lives in the Cabrini-Green housing projects in Chicago. The neighborhood is on high alert because cops think a local named Sherman Fields (Michael Hargrove) stuck razor blades in some candy. William spots Sherman while doing laundry in the Cabrini-Green laundry room, yelling in shock at the sight of the man, who has a hook for a hand. William's yelling tips off nearby cops, who arrive and kill Sherman. 

We then jump to 2019 where we meet Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), an artist who lives with his girlfriend, art gallery director Brianna (Teyonah Parris). The old Cabrini-Green buildings are gone and the neighborhood has been gentrified, but there are plenty of old legends surrounding the area. Anthony and Brianna learn about one such legend from Brianna's brother (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), who recounts the events of the original 1992 "Candyman." Sort of. He tells about Helen Lyle and how she was digging into the legend of Candyman. Anyone who saw the first movie knows that Helen eventually found Candyman, who turned out to be a very real, and very deadly ghost. In the original film, we saw that Candyman kidnapped a baby, and Helen eventually rescued it, dying in the process. However, over the years, the story has changed, and most people now think Helen was the one who kidnapped the baby and also killed Candyman's victims. 

Intrigued, Anthony decides to work the legend of Candyman, Helen, and Cabrini-Green into a new art project. As he scouts out the area where Cabrini-Green once stood, he meets the now grown-up William, played by Colman Domingo. William tells Anthony about the story of Sherman Fields, and eventually, he tells Anthony some more detail about how the legend of Candyman changes over the years, and how the name has been applied to various people from the area — although the story originated with Daniel Robitaille (Tony Todd), the Candyman we met in the first movie. In the midst of Anthony's investigations, he gets stung by a bee, and the bee sting causes an infection that begins to spread. Anthony's mind begins to fracture along with the bee-sting infection, and he has visions of Sherman as Candyman. Meanwhile, his art piece — a mirror that invites people to summon Candyman — results in some hapless fools doing just that. Various people say "Candyman" five times in front of the mirror, and the Sherman version of Candyman shows up and brutally kills them. 

Tell Everyone

Anthony's deteriorating mental state causes Brianna to flee. Anthony, meanwhile, learns that he was the kidnapped baby from the Helen Lyle story Brianna's brother told. So far, all of this works, and works really well. I was 100% on board with the film through all of this. And then, unfortunately, things get a little messy. Concerned about Anthony, Brianna seeks out William to get some answers. But William ends up overpowering her and taking her to an abandoned church. Anthony is at the church, too, in some sort of trance. Here, William explains that he wants to keep the legend of Candyman alive, and he wants Anthony to become the new Candyman. So he proceeds to saw off Anthony's hand and slam a rusty hook into the stump. 

I have major issues with this. As great an actor as Colman Domingo may be, the William character and his motivations just don't make much sense. I strongly suspect there was a lot more to the character that ended up on the cutting room floor. There are several other elements that seem trimmed down here. For example, we briefly get some backstory about Brianna's childhood that shows us her father committed suicide, but it's never fully fleshed out. And neither is William's plan to make Anthony the new Candyman. It just does not make sense, and feels kind of needless — the original Candyman didn't need some evil acolyte pulling his strings. 

In any case, William calls the cops, because he wants them to show up and kill Anthony, thus turning him into the Candyman. Brianna is able to get the drop on William and stab him to death with a pen. Anthony, dying of his various injuries, collapses in her arms. At that moment, the cops show up. Rather than help the clearly incapacitated Anthony, they shoot him to death. Immediately afterward, Brianna is arrested and put in the back of a cop car. The racist cops want her to lie and say that Anthony was attacking her, and that's why they shot him. Instead, Brianna summons Candyman in the car's rearview mirror — and the dead Anthony, now in full Candyman mode, shows up and slaughters all the cops. At this point, a swarm of bees encircles Anthony's head, and when they dissipate slightly, Anthony has changed into Tony Todd's o.g. Candyman, Daniel Robitaille. He tells Brianna to tell everyone what he's done, thus keeping the Candyman legend alive.

As visually cool as it is to see Tony Todd emerge from a swarm of bees, this ending is riddled with issues. I gave the film a positive review, and I stand by that, because there's so much here that works, and Nia DaCosta directs the hell out of the movie. But this entire conclusion, which turns Candyman into some sort of avenging angel, feels weird. I'm perfectly fine with filmmakers taking ideas from previous films and moving them into new directions, but Candyman going from urban legend to ass-kicker just doesn't sit right. Again: I suspect there was a much longer cut of this film that took care of a lot of these issues, and I hope the eventual home media release includes deleted scenes to back this up. 

In the meantime, "Candyman" is still a worthwhile horror movie, and I hope after she gets done working with Marvel, Nia DaCosta returns to the horror genre.