Well, that was boring.
Clive Barker got more involvement in this sequel than he did in Bernard Rose's original. Not satisfied with the usual executive producer's credit, this time he bags a writing credit ("story") on the screenplay. Sad to say, the result is mediocre. It's not particularly bad, it's just forgettable. There was a good twist that I didn't see coming, expecting as I was the more obvious (and cheesier) link between the Candyman and Annie Tarrant. That was ingenious.
But while the first Candyman scared you from the beginning, this sequel never really gets off the ground. The script thinks that false scares make up for not putting its characters in danger, overlooking the fact that without danger these false scares become toothless. What's more, the direction of 'em borders on cinematic illiteracy. Some of these false scares don't even get far enough to misfire, instead coming across as the work of a director who doesn't understand the concept in the first place. You can see what the script had in mind, but what's on the screen isn't even trying to make you jump.
The action has moved from Chicago to New Orleans, which adds some colour but is never really significant. There are some nice visuals, but they're basically stolen from the first Candyman. The score is liberally cut-and-pasted from the original too, but I didn't mind because I think it's wonderful. However the characters are mostly forgettable. Their situations are mostly forgettable. I almost prefer bad movies to stuff like this, since at least with something actively bad you're being offered something different from the formulae.
Horror veteran Veronica Cartwright fares best, giving us a Southern grande dame who eats up the screen at every opportunity. Kelly Rowan is the movie's heroine, but I'm afraid she's most memorable for a cool facial expression upon seeing a couple having sex in the street. William O'Leary is actively annoying.
But Tony Todd... ooooh, he's awesome. Say what you like about Candyman II, at least it preserves the mystique of one of horror's best movie monsters. The Candyman is a masterful creation, transcending the few movies he's starred in to become a magnificent, noble, horrible killer who kicks the arse of Freddy, Jason and all those wannabes. Here he even becomes the most sympathetic character, while keeping all the impact and screen presence he had first time around. He's the biggest reason to watch this film.
I have a couple of specific niggles. Why is some of the blood the colour of stewed blackberries? How come a little boy can draw like an art graduate and capture the Candyman's likeness perfectly to boot? Maybe he's been touched by Daniel Robitaille's spirit? It's possible, but I don't see how or why.
I'm afraid I can't recommend this. An interesting twist can't make up for a film that almost seems to go out of its way to avoid creating anything noteworthy. New Orleans makes pretty eye candy, but it's not as if we've never seen a story set there before. The characters are so nondescript that by the end you'll be cheering on the Candyman - in fact, I'm not convinced that the filmmakers weren't hoping for precisely that reaction.
It's not bad. Its production values are good and the film never dips below a certain basic level of quality. There's much, much worse out there. However you'll need to exert some willpower not to turn off the television and do something more interesting at some point during its 93 minutes.