Making a sequel is typ­i­cal­ly writ­ten off by casu­al observers as the eas­i­est, most com­mer­cial thing for film­mak­ers to do. This is often cor­rect in a finan­cial sense: mar­ket the right redux of a con­cept to an audi­ence that already loves it and they’re like­ly to buy it again. However, mak­ing a sequel is a chal­lenge in the artis­tic sense, at least if you want to make a good one. You have to stay close enough to the famil­iar to bring in the fans of the orig­i­nal film while adding in enough new ele­ments and inter­est­ing flour­ish­es to keep the results from being a car­bon copy.

CanFTTF-posCandyman: Farewell To The Flesh rep­re­sents an inter­est­ing exam­ple of the finan­cial and artis­tic aims of the sequel try­ing to find a meet­ing ground. The script, based on a plot­line devised by source mate­ri­al author Clive Barker, shifts the franchise’s urban leg­end con­cept to New Orleans. School teacher Annie Tarrant (Kelly Rowan) is a young wom­an whose well-to-do fam­i­ly has fal­l­en on hard times: her father seems to have com­mit­ted sui­cide under mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances, her moth­er (Veronica Cartwright) is deal­ing with can­cer and her broth­er (William O’Leary) has been arrest­ed on a mur­der charge.

Annie believes her broth­er is inno­cent and starts to research the mys­te­ri­ous mur­der. Everything cir­cles back to the leg­end of Candyman (Tony Todd), a leg­endary super­nat­u­ral killer who can be sum­moned if some­one says his name thrice. Annie invokes Candyman to prove to her­self the leg­end is fake but unwit­ting­ly releas­es him once more. As she tries to stop him and the bod­ies begin to pile up, she learns she might have more in com­mon with Candyman that she might think — and the audi­ence learns about the inci­dent that made him such a ter­ror.

Part of the appeal of the orig­i­nal Candyman was its fresh­ness: it off­set its slash­er and ghost sto­ry ele­ments with a deeply-felt sense of social com­men­tary that gave it a unique res­o­nance and its then-new urban leg­end hook lent it a bit of added nar­ra­tive excite­ment. Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh inevitably can’t offer such rewards as hor­ror fans know the rules of the game by this point — and com­mer­cial­ism-dri­ven sequel log­ic dic­tates that there must be an air of the famil­iar to keep the film in line with its pre­de­ces­sor.

However, this doesn’t make Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh a rote retread. The Rand Ravich/Mark Kruger script adds a few nov­el wrin­kles. For exam­ple, the city of New Orleans is effec­tive­ly used as a char­ac­ter in the film, com­plete with evoca­tive Mardi Gras visu­als and a south­ern-fried disc jockMSDCAND EC012ey who acts as a sort of Greek cho­rus to the sto­ry line. As it reveals the con­nec­tion between the present day events and Candyman’s past, the script offers some barbed com­men­tary on the scars that slav­ery has left on American soci­ety.

Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh is also effec­tive­ly craft­ed by direc­tor Bill Condon: he’s a lit­tle over­ly fond of jump scares dur­ing the first half-hour but cre­ates sev­er­al effec­tive set­pieces, includ­ing a police inter­ro­ga­tion that goes awry in a mem­o­rable way and a styl­ish chase through a Mardi Gras parade. He real­ly takes to the goth­ic romance ele­ment of the plot, which inter­est­ing­ly fore­shad­ows his lat­er work on the Twilight sequels. On a side note, it’s worth men­tion­ing that the pro­duc­ers wise­ly got Philip Glass to return from the first film to cre­ate a new musi­cal score and his ele­gant, choral-tinged work real­ly amps up the film’s atmos­phere that Condon cre­ates.

The per­for­mances are also solid: Rowan makes a decent hero­ine but it’s Todd who rules the roost here, bring­ing both chill fac­tor and grav­i­tas to a role that is ulti­mate­ly revealed to be quite trag­ic. Cartwright has a lot of fun play­ing a bitchy south­ern matri­arch and vet­er­an char­ac­ter actor Matt Clark is also quite good in a bit role as an art deal­er who sheds light on Annie’s past.

In short, Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh nev­er eclipses its pre­de­ces­sor but that would have been an impos­si­ble task under even the best cir­cum­stances. Instead, it offers a solid sec­ond act to the leg­end, weav­ing in a few inspired touch­es that make it worth a look for devot­ed fans of the first film. For a hor­ror sequel from the ‘90s, that’s a pret­ty good deal.