NORTH PARK — Just when you thought it was safe to look in the mirror and repeat “Candyman” five times, Jordan Peele is here to revive the cult classic of your nightmares.
Filming of a “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 horror flick is now underway in Chicago. The film’s cast and crew, led by director Nia DaCosta, are working with a script co-written by Peele, the creative force behind the smash fright fests “Get Out” and “Us.”
Notices for the new production have been popping up around town since August, flying under the radar by using the title “Say My Name.” (Pro tip: Do NOT say Candyman’s name.) Locations have included Kenwood, Marina City and the old Cook County Hospital.
The latest sighting: North Park, where parking restrictions on St. Louis, Bernard and Foster avenues are in place through 2 a.m. Friday. The closely guarded action is centered at a strip mall and alley.
The original “Candyman” prominently featured the former Cabrini-Green housing project.
In a June interview with the UK’s Guardian, “Candyman” director Bernard Rose reflected on the Chicago shoot.
“I asked the Illinois Film Commission where the worst public housing estate in the city was and they said without pausing, ‘Cabrini-Green,'” he said.
“They wouldn’t let us go there at first without a police escort. But despite its reputation, most people there were just getting on with their lives,” Rose continued. “The fear people had of walking around there was the very essence of racism — it is ultimately based on the fear of the other, or the unknown.”
Peele’s version, filming entirely in Chicago, will return to the “now-gentrified neighborhood where the legend began,” according to a description from the film studio.
Speaking at a recent industry forum, Ian Cooper, the creative director of Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, said the rebooted “Candyman” would stand on its own for newcomers to the story but would also “dovetail in a pretty complicated and interesting way to the original. In short, I think this will really fit in with what we’re doing with ‘Us’ and did with ‘Get Out’ in a way that will be circuitous.”
The cast features up-and-comers Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Us,” “Aquaman”) and Teyonah Parris (“If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Chi-Raq”), along with Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (“Misfits,” “Utopia”) and Colman Domingo (“Euphoria,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Fear the Walking Dead”). Several Chicago theater veterans have also been tapped for supporting roles.
The involvement of fan favorite Tony Todd, the titular Candyman in the original movie and its sequels, remains unclear.
“Candyman” is slated for a June 2020 release. To prep, here’s a recap of the plot, which seems well-suited for reinterpretation under Peele’s brand of socially conscious horror:
A Chicago grad student investigates the legend of the “Candyman” for her thesis on urban myths. “Candyman” was the son of a slave, who became a prosperous artist. After falling in love with a white woman, he was attacked by a lynch mob, who cut off his painting hand and replaced it with a hook, smeared him in honey and let loose a swarm of bees, which stung him to death. His body was burned and his ashes were spread on the site of the eventual Cabrini-Green.
Say Candyman’s name five times in front of a mirror and he, and his hook, will appear and kill you. (So why, why, why does anyone ever say “Candyman”? Because it’s a horror movie.)
Abdul-Mateen has shared a handful of glimpses from the set via social media, and sharp-eyed Chicagoans have also spied filming in progress.
To tide you over until next summer, we dug up the original “Candyman” trailer. In case you’re wondering, the bees were real. Actor Tony Todd told the Guardian he got paid a $1,000 bonus for each actual sting he endured as Candyman — 23 in total.