You can tell right away that Nia DaCosta‘s Candyman isn’t horror crap — that it’s a cut or two above your generic slasher gruel.

It’s quietly spooky, trippy, impressionistic, nightmarish. Largely unreliant on brutal shock cuts. A mix of the meditative and the assaultive, Obviously gorey here and there, but that’s the territory. The buzzing bees made me twitch and whatnot, but that was the intention. I got a little tired looking at Chicago’s Cabrini-Green project over and over, but what was I gonna do?

And I enjoyed the vibey assurance of Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Bobby Seale in Aaron Sorkin‘s The Trial of the Chicago 7), Teyonah Parris and Colman Domingo.

DaCosta, 31, is a first-rate filmmaker — she has the focus of a professional, a steady hand. She knows how to frame and compose, when to hold and cut away, when to move and hold still.

[SPOILER] And boy, did I love the concluding scene when Parris’s character, Brianna Cartwright, looks at her reflection in the rearview mirror of a cop car with a thuggish white officer in the driver’s seat, calls for Candyman five times (a different emphasis given to each call-out) and before you know it all the boys in blue (who might as well be stand-ins for the killers of George Floyd) are slashed and bloodied and cleavered to death.

Do I want to sit through Candyman again? Naah, that’s okay. Once was enough. But it didn’t annoy me (and for me that’s saying something) and I respected the experience. I’m glad I saw it. My horizons have been slightly broadened. Oh, and DaCosta needs to escape the horror genre. She’s better than that.