Directed by: jordan peele
Starring: Michael K. Williams, Diane Kruger, Rosario Dawson
Like in the original, Helen Lyle (Diane Kruger) is a graduate student, researching urban legends. Through her online research, she finds out about the Candyman, who can be summoned by saying his name five times in a mirror, causing him to appear and kill the summoner with a hook that was attached to the bloody stump of his right arm.
Helen & her thesis writing partner (Rosario Dawson), who have teamed up because they each returned to college after several years & share that “more world experience vibe”, visit the scenes of Candyman related disappearances, many of which are areas of town that they probably shouldn’t be in.
At some houses, they find families living there. Others, abandoned homes. At each crime scene, regardless of the state of the home, they find images… traces of Candyman related art painted or etched into the walls and floors. His face, the hook that replaced his sawed off hand, bees, etc. In one abandoned home in particular, they find a giant mural of The Candyman and an alter laid out before it, complete with recently placed, recently burned candles.
During their research they meet Philip Purcell, a former professor, turned author, who has been following their progress through their social media posts. Purcell tells the ladies the story of Candyman (shown as a flashback to a time shortly after the civil war – this is something I would spend more time expanding on, versus original film). Candyman was part of his research on urban legends, but he convinces them that the story was not worth pursuing, being nothing more than that – an urban legend.
This idea that the Candyman legend was nothing more than a made up hoax makes Helen want to dive deeper and removes her fears, so she and her writing partner (Bernadette) look in the mirror and say his name five times. Nothing happens…… until
During a late night writing session at Bernadette’s place it becomes clear to Bernadette and Helen that they have feelings for one another. Helen is conflicted by these feelings and leaves the apartment to head to her car. Her head and heart are spinning, leaving her distracted. It is at that moment that she is confronted by the Candyman himself. This was no urban legend and Helen is now a part of it. She had tried to discredit the legend of the Candyman and had angered him, so she must now do her part to perpetuate the story and is told to shed innocent blood.
Helen wakes in a pool of blood, holding a knife. It isn’t her blood. Something horrible has happened and the story unravels before us. She hears screaming. She stumbles from the room to find that she is in the house of one of the families they had visited before, on the wrong side of the tracks. A dog has been murdered, a baby is missing and all signs point to the fact that she was the one responsible, but she remembers nothing. She flees the scene and heads to Bernadette’s apartment.
Bernadette console’s her and they talk through what to do next. Helen showers, takes some sleeping pills to calm down and drifts off on Bernadette’s couch. In a half-asleep/half-awake, drug induced state of confusion, Helen opens her eyes to find The Candyman standing over her. He tells her that the only way to rescue the missing baby is to surrender herself to him. She can’t tell if this is real or not. She tries to fight but finds herself paralyzed. She can only scream “NOOO, NOOO, NOOO” over and over again and eventually drifts off, convincing herself it was all a crazy dream.
Helen eventually wakes, maybe “fully this time” she thinks, and stumbles into the bathroom to find Bernadette, looking in the mirror. Bernadette turns to Helen and says “I love you and I couldn’t let him take you. I had to do something.” The Candyman appears and opens his coat, revealing a mid-section completely covered in bees. The bees take over The Candyman and Bernadette as they become one and eventually disappear.
Helen returns to the home with the giant mural and alter, to find the missing baby. And the art of the mural has changed. A likeness of Bernadette appears next to Candyman, chained at his side, with a look of horror on her face. Helen takes a moment to study the mural, but knows that she will most likely be arrested if she stays or tries to return the baby herself, so she heads across the street and calls in an anonymous tip. She waits to see the police arrive and remove the baby from the home and then leaves.
Helen knows that her life will never be the same. Fleeing the crime scene most likely means that she will be arrested. Bernadette is … somewhere else, most likely dead. She crushes her phone, which is surely traced by the police, returns home to pack a few bags and heads out.
We fast forward several years, to find Helen living in a cabin in the woods. She’s surrounded by books and notepads and is standing in front of a mirror. She’s mumbling to herself and, as we zoom in on her, we can hear what she is saying. “I love you Bernadette and I am sorry that you sacrificed yourself for me… I must set you free…. I must save you.” She looks up into the mirror and says it once “Bernadette” – she says it twice, a third time, a fourth time and finally a fifth. Bernadette appears behind her from the shadows and says “I was waiting for you to finally call my name.” Helen turns and moves in to embrace Bernadette. They hug and look into each other’s eyes. Did it work? Did Helen free her from this “other place” that she had given herself up to?
A noise comes from deeper in the shadows and we see a hook raise into the air. At that exact moment, the lights in the room become blindingly bright and we see that there is much more to the room than we originally thought. Rows of spotlights and metal tubing line the exterior walls, all pointed inward. All the windows are sealed and there is an open door at one end of the room.
Helen grabs Bernadette by the hand and they run for the open door. They dive out as the door slams behind them and Helen punches a button from outside. The building bursts into flames in an instant. They stand and run for the trees and they just keep running.
Eventually they come up on a car, clearly prepared and left at this precise location. Helen jumps into the driver’s seat and turns the key. They speed off and head down a long road. They look back to see flames rising in the distance and a swarm of bees rising from the fire. They’ve made it. They are free.
Helen looks over at Bernadette and says I love you. Bernadette looks back to utter the same and that’s when Helen notices it….. A single bee crawls from the side of Bernadette’s face and onto her eye. Bernadette simply smiles and raises a hand…. well, a hook.
Title: Little Hell
Directed by: Jordan Peele
Starring: Blake lively (Helen), andre holland (James), Mahershala Ali (Candyman)
2002 – 10 years after Candyman is defeated by Helen
Under the extended gentrification plans of Cabrini-Green, many of the tenants have relocated, but many of those left behind have no desire to leave. This place has been their home for generations, but their ties to Cabrini-Green are not just economical or traditional, they are spiritual. They have an obligation to honor Mother Helen, the woman who fought to rid their neighborhood from Candyman.
One of the first buildings to be erected is the Near North library. In an effort to show the new construction will honor the lives of its current residents, a modern art installation is added which mimics the shrines of Mother Helen and Candyman found scattered through the apartment buildings that will soon be demolished. The artist, who views the painting as meaningless, mocks the beliefs of the locals, dismissing Helen as myth, folklore of a people she never understood.
Questioned by a friend who came to keep the artist company, discussion begins around the details of the folklore and how to summon the mysterious subjects of the artist’s new work. The details of Candyman and Helen are retold, and how speaking their names into a mirror 5 times will bring them to life. The pair are compelled to follow through with the ritual, only Helen does not appear. The artist runs low on painting supplies and is forced to conclude her work for the evening. As the pair of women approach the glass doors of the library, only then, in the reflection of the glass, does Helen finally show herself.
With her favorite toy, Candyman’s old hook, Helen kills the artist and her friend. With their blood, she completes the mural, and lets those altering her neighborhood know: “I Live”. Concerned with endangering the progress of this new neighborhood, the police actually respond to investigate the murders. Construction halts, and those behind the project are furious. They know those opposed to the new construction are behind the murders, and with millions of dollars in late penalties at risk, they have to take matters into their own hands to get construction back on track.
James, working for RWG, the developers behind bringing a new face to the old Cabrini-Green, has been tasked with finding out who is behind the resistance and killings. A young, black man who genuinely thinks the new construction will help the residents improve their lives, was a leader in getting support from the local community. Though a non-believer in the local folklore, he has made enough connections to freely speak with everyone about what may have happened at the library.
Meanwhile, others at RWG Development are getting retribution on those left in Cabrini-Green, destroying the monuments to Helen, upsetting her and unknowingly returning power to shrines for the former demon that once haunted the residents: Candyman. While Helen is losing power, Candyman is slaying locals, and James is caught up in the middle. To find out more about the murders he once thought were gang killings spun into myth, James goes to his father, the retired detective, Frank Valento.
Frank doesn’t want to talk about the killings, but when James tells him about the new murders, Frank is forced to share what he knew about Candyman, Helen, and what she became. They know that Candyman has to be stopped, and the only person that can kill him is who killed him before, Mother Helen. The Valento father and son return to Cabrini-Green to rebuild Helen’s shrines and pit her against Candyman. The men each call the killer spirits into one of empty apartment buildings set for demolition. Frank is killed by Candyman and thrown from the building while James is protected by Helen and manage to hide. One of the RWG contractors witnesses the fight between the supernatural killers and decides to set the charges early, bringing the building down around the three. Candyman and Helen both die, but she manages to keep James alive.
The developers decides the local folklore needs to disappear with the old buildings. The library mural is painted over and the shrines are removed, and no one speaks of the spirits that prowled Cabrini-Green for so long, but Helen is not forgotten by all. James Valento takes it upon himself to become the caretaker of the lore. He writes the story of Candyman and Helen and stows it away, along with the hook he found in the rubble of the demolished building. He writes, ‘for Tony’ on the lid of the box and James’ young son runs into his father’s office. James hugs him and says, “I love you, Tony, and I’m sorry.”