I Finally Found a Film That Terrified Me

Like can’t turn over on my side facing the wall while going to bed because I’m afraid of something is going to come out of my closet or mirror scared.

In case you don’t know me: I’m 25 and horror films are my jam. It takes a lot to scare me.

So who achieved this feat?

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THIS SUAVE-AF MONSTER/POET/ARTIST

For anyone not familiar with his bee-chested, hook-wielding glory – this is Candyman.

Like most horror monsters he comes with a legend, which I will attempt to paraphrase from Wikipedia:

In 1890, Candyman was the son of a slave who earned money, status and ultimately freedom because of an invention that revolutionized the shoe-making industry. Candyman grew up going to all the best schools and was a prodigal artist who become well-known for painting portraits of the wealthy. Eventually he painted a portrait of one client in particular, he fathered a baby with the man’s white daughter. The man sent out a lynch mob to punish and murder Candyman. They cut off his painting hand and replaced it with a hook before smearing his entire body with honey stolen from an apiary resulting in death from hundreds of bee stings. His corpse was burned in a pyre and his ashes were scattered in an area where a modern-day housing project, Cabrini-Greens, stands.

However, the film does not show this “historical” event and introduces it as an urban legend a grad student, Helen Lyle played by Virginia Madsen, is building her doctoral thesis around for the University of Illinois. Along with her partner Bernadette she decides to uncover the legend through interviews with those who have either heard and/or believe in Candyman. Eventually this leads her to Cabrini-Greens, a real-life Chicago housing project ruled by gang warfare, where the residents believe a woman was murdered by the ominous hookman. However, Helen believes the residents are actually using Candyman as a psychological tool to cope with their everyday lives in the projects.

There is a lot to be said about Helen’s white savior complex, the history of Cabrini-Greens and its failure as a community for the low-income residents of Chicago, and the other racial elements of the films, but that’s for another entry.

All problematic issues aside, Helen is partially right. A gang leader called Sweets is arrested after attacking Helen (IN THE GROSSEST BATHROOM IN FILM HISTORY) and we find out he was using Candyman as a way to up his credibility and to spread fear. However, after 44 minutes of a Candyman-less Candyman, Helen soon comes to realize that Candyman is very much real and he’s ready to fuck. things. up. He’s a life-ruiner. He ruins lives!

He does this for two reasons:

  1. Helen said his name five times in the bathroom mirror (Don’t even risk that, dude, come on.)
  2. She has caused people to doubt his existence, which is his primary mission – to stay alive through as he refers to writing on the wall and whispers in the classroom. He’s extremely poetic for a serial murderer, but I think anything Tony Todd recites sounds like poetry so there’s that.

So that’s where my personal reaction to this film comes in. Movies where character’s lives are falling apart around them because of some force (human or not) stress me the fuck out. Even a movie like Meet the Parents puts me on edge. I don’t know if it hits home with the series of unfortunate events that have followed me through life (a.k.a. white girl problems), but I just feel for these people who can’t catch a break. And Helen really can’t catch one. Everywhere she turns is another wall where she is forced to question her reality and sanity. I felt the same way watching Black Mirror: Bandersnatch for the record.

Another key element to why this film continues to haunt me days after just merely listening to a podcast about it and then watching the film is the fact that it falls into a little niche genre – urban horror.

Farms, forests, cabins in the woods – I can deal. I know the formula. I know the rules. If you don’t just watch Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. However, horror films set in urban locations tend to bend the typical rules of horror and Candyman is no exception.

For example, Cabrini-Greens in itself becomes a character to fear. From its aforementioned horrifying external restroom to its haunting graffiti (some of which features Candyman himself), this is not a place you want to be any time of day. In fact, we mostly see it in broad daylight throughout the film.

There’s also the fact that Helen discovers if you pull off the apartments’ bathroom medicine cabinet there is no wall between one apartment to the next – just the two cabinets on either side and a small space in between. I don’t even live in an apartment and I felt violated. I seriously wanted to check my closet for secret holes some evil entity could crawl through. This notion is that palpable.

The other thing about urban horror is that if you’re dealing with the supernatural it has an entire city to follow you around and fuck with you. One of my favorite films, Jacob’s Ladder, also exhibits this. The two films would pair nicely together in that sense. Additionally, we see the urban setting as a villain in David Fincher’s nameless city in Se7en.

Although Candyman frightens me and hits all my scare buttons, I absolutely love it. From Phillip Glass’ haunting score featuring a full choir (why do choirs just take music to the next level?) to Bernard Rose’s excellent direction it is truly a horror masterpiece.

With that being said it’s no surprise that the film is set to be remade by Jordan Peele this year with an expected release date of 2020. From what I read the film will deal with gentrification, which I would love to see Candyman to take on. But if he fails he can always sell the honey from his bees at the neighborhood farmer’s market. If you can’t gut them, join them?

2019.

I’m a month or so shy of 26 years old and to be perfectly honest I thought I’d have accomplished more by now. It all has to do with perspective, I suppose. On the one hand I have lived on my own in a strange place (The Hamptons™), I’ve had over 100 articles published with my byline, I’ve developed long-term relationships with clients as a freelance marketing consultant and I even saw one of my articles – and the headline I came up with – go viral in 2015. Still, it always seems like I should be doing more, even if I don’t know what.

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I learned a lot about myself last year. I learned I’m not as strong as I think I am, but I have the potential to be stronger than I think I can be. It shows at times – that righteous (one could argue self-righteous) side of me that doesn’t take people’s bullshit. Other times I accidentally give people a glimpse of what I’m trying to hide – an insecure, angry girl still holding sixth grade grudges.

With that being said it’s not all to do with my professional life and family/relationships when I say I feel like I should have accomplished more. I guess part of me feels like I should have had a grand revelation about life and its pitfalls. I’m sure there’s some kind of scientific study that shows we don’t fully mature emotionally until we’re about to die – because that’s the jolly future most studies predict – but I want that moment of transcendence now.

I want to REALLY not care what anyone thinks. I want to love myself unconditionally. I want to walk down the beach in a bikini with my not-so-typical bikini body holding a basket of cheese fries while Move B***H by Ludacris blasts.

However, I’m not there yet. I’m still growing. And I guess that’s something I need to live with for now. Until I’m there I can continue to take baby steps… like practicing not having my blood pressure spike when a friend is late to the bar or continuing to build my professional skills despite the ups and downs of the market and my bank account.

So standing here at 2019 I make the conscious decision to face whatever comes my way. Everything may not be the way I want it, but I’m making progress and that’s something I know I should be proud of.

A Tale of Three “Annie”s

*Note: This post is not meant in any way to discredit the talent of the cast or production teams behind the productions of “Annie” being produced on Long Island this month. Nor am I advocating for audiences to see any particular productions other than “Annie.”

A certain little optimistic ginger has taken over Long Island – or at least the theatre scene.

Three Long Island mainstage theaters – to my knowledge – are producing the story of the debateably sickeningly sweet orphan.

As a Long Island performer and critic I have to wonder – why? Why would three (or more, if you count touring companies and Annie Jr. productions) theaters choose the same show to play at the same time?

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy “Annie.” It’s entertaining for the most part (usually the scenes that don’t include the titular redhead) and it has one of the best villain songs in musical theatre (no one can top Alan Cumming and Kristen Chenoweth’s “Easy Street” in the 1999 Disney TV movie adaptation, fight me.)

But from a business and artistic perspective the oversaturation of this musical on Long Island this holiday season is pretty puzzling.

You would think theaters would want to offer patrons a variety of options.

For example, let’s say I’m Ralph and Shirley Mudge from Lindenhurst. We’re not subscribers to any particular theater, but we’re looking for a couple of shows to see over the next month. We check the local listings: “Annie” in Oakdale, “Annie” in Syosset,” “Annie” in Merrick.

We’ve been to all three theaters and they each have something different to offer. So how do we choose? Maybe it depends on where we want to have dinner beforehand. Maybe it depends on if we know of a particular actor in the show. But we know one thing – we’re not likely to see three productions of the same show.

But let’s say the same three theaters produced three different productions, disregarding the fact that other theaters may be doing any of the following musicals as well. One does Annie – okay, fine. Another does “Holiday Inn” – Shirley’s favorite holiday film. And the other one does “White Christmas” – Ralph’s top pick for holiday films. Now they’re more likely to see all three.

I don’t pretend to be a business expert – I’m pretty awful at math and spreadsheets confuse me – but it just seems like it makes more sense to offer a variety.

And that brings me to my second point – artistic variety. I am a big advocate for theaters pushing boundaries and offering audiences a chance to see shows that challenge them to step outside their comfort zone. But I’m not ignorant. I know theaters need to sell tickets to stay afloat. However, I wish more theaters would consider tossing in a non-mainstream show into their season. Maybe the holidays aren’t the time to do that. There are maybe 10 musicals at most that are specifically holiday oriented shows so I understand why a theater would go with a safe bet like “Annie.” In one case, subscribers for one theater voted for it to be the theater’s holiday musical.

Still, I continue to wonder – do we really need three or more productions of “Annie”? Even if they were all Broadway caliber, I know I don’t have time or the desire to see all three and I’m not alone on that stance.

I wish everyone involved with these productions the best of luck and I hope the theaters all do well financially, but I continue to ponder if three productions of the same musical will bring something special to patrons this holiday season.

But hey, at least there isn’t a stage adaptation of the 2014 movie…

No one let Cameron Diaz sing again. Ever. Seriously.

Everything You Don’t Want on Your Facebook Feed

So I’ve been told I’m an “oversharer.” I tend to stay up until about 3 or 4 a.m. and sometimes, occasionally… every day I end up posting the random thoughts that my unconscious ego feels necessary to share.

Example A:

In my defense, the nuns were really cunty. She just wanted to sing during her free time!

But, you get my drift? No one really cares (except for that one mental health advocate who liked it!).

So this is my new domain. You want to know the crazy shit that runs through my head? Well stayed tuned. I can think of at least 8 tweets that would get 0% engagement right now.

If you don’t, bye!

Additionally (Can I use that? Does it match the tone? Whatever, Yoast told me transition words are good for “readability”), I will be posting film and theatre reviews because I want to and I don’t feel like making a separate blog. And just to note, these aren’t BroadwayWorld reviews. They will include a tad more criticism, constructively of course. Although I do my best to implement that into my BroadwayWorld reviews as well despite certain, er, limitations.

So hang out, grab your favorite prescription medication and join me as I overshare as much as I want.