So, for the past several days, I’ve been working on the outline for Crawler, the mummy novel I’ll write after my upcoming vacation. And it’s coming along very well. I think I could be done with the outline by the middle of the week. That being said, more fun than writing this outline (and believe me, it is fun), is the characters themselves.

Some of my favorite Stephen King novels are those that have, along with a kick-ass premise, a really memorable cast of characters. IT has the Losers Club, as well as bullies, a mother with Munchausen’s by proxy, a budding serial killer teen, plenty more nasty parents and a few horrible lovers, and so many more. Salem’s Lot has Ben Mears, his girlfriend Susan, the professor, the priest, the teen boy with a fondness for horror, the real estate agent, Susan’s controlling mother, Susan’s asshole ex-boyfriend that her mother loves for some reason, the teen mom who takes her rage out on her baby, her lousy husband, the woman having an affair, her husband and her lover, the hunchbacked man and so many more. Not to mention the vampire Barlow and his familiar Richard Straker.

And I could write a whole blog post about the characters of Needful Things, one of my favorite King novels ever. There’s Leland Gaunt himself, as well as Sheriff Pangborn, his girlfriend Polly Chalmers, the town drunk, the crazy first selectman, the preteen boy obsessed with baseball and his speech therapy teacher, his mom and her best friend who think they’re having affairs with Elvis, Ace Merrill, Polly’s housekeeper Nettie, local angry bitch Wilma Jerzyck (what else would you call her?), the various members of the Catholic and Baptist churches who hate each other’s guts, etc. They’re all part of the fun that make this and the previous two novels, which wouldn’t be as impactful without them.

And I’m willing to bet that for King, a lot of the fun he had writing those novels probably came from these characters. Maybe even moreso than the stories themselves, let alone the horrors within.

By the by, I’m pretty sure Salem’s Lot will be especially influential on Crawler. I’ll have to work hard not to let that influence make the novel read like a King ripoff or pastiche.

Anyway, as you can probably guess, I’m having a ball with this outline, and a lot of the fun comes from the characters. Remember my blog post about wanting to include Jewish characters? Well, I made my leads Jewish. And while I didn’t need to, it actually adds an interesting dimension to the struggle of the novel. After all, they’re facing an Egyptian-style mummy. Play the Prince of Egypt soundtrack! Plus, they each have aspects to them that people will like or identify with.

It’ll probably help that I modeled their appearances after Rei Hino/Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon and Dean Winchester from Supernatural (if there’s a movie version someday, can we get Jensen Ackles as the male lead?).

I would love to have a novel with a cast compared favorably to either of these novels.

I’ve also been able to add a bunch of characters that I think will be fun to write. For instance, there’s my antagonist, whom I think people are going to find terrifying and yet relatable. There’s also a troublesome mother who thinks she’s entitled to things when she’s not; a police dispatcher with a very big secret; a drug dealer; a preteen with a heart of gold who ends up caught up in the meshuggas around town; a true crime blogger who’s kind of awful; and more. They’re going to be great to write.

Of course, there’s a good chance I could screw it up by not writing them well enough before they reach their final fates, whatever that might be. Still, I gotta try. And I’m sure if I focus on making these characters memorable and somewhat likable while also making sure they play the parts needed for the novel…maybe the cast will turn out as well as the casts of the above novels. Or close enough to it. Balancing acts in writing like this are often a matter of practice, trial and error.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now. I look forward to giving you further updates on this novel and the other projects I’ll be working on in the near future. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and it’s 42 days till Halloween. Have you decided on your costume yet? I have. It’s going to be a killer.

I first heard of this film earlier this year. And I heard a lot of back and forth on it. Some people loved it, other people hated it. It got a terrible response when it was released. However, there’s a cult following around it, and I recently found it on HBO Max. So, unsure of what I was getting into, I watched it.

Based on the graphic novel from Boom Studios (which I may need to read now), The Empty Man follows James Lasombra, a former cop with a past. When his friend’s daughter Amanda goes missing and the police show little interest in finding her, he does some investigating himself. This leads him not only to a strange cult with connections to a spirit in Bhutan, but to a rabbit hole that will not only change him, but the world.

Well, that was something else. And I have to say, I’m glad I watched it.

For one thing, the main part of the film is very atmospheric. There’s this somber air around the whole film which pairs well with the story and the characters. Add in some decent jump scares and some even better creepy sequences, and you actually have a film that’s hard to look away from. I especially like the sequences involving the cult, which is just freaky as all get out. Especially that bonfire scene.

Oh, and the sequences with the titular Empty Man is quite creepy to watch when they’re onscreen.

That being said, it’s not perfect. The main issue is the film’s opening. Remember two paragraphs ago where I said “main film?” The first twenty minutes are kind of a prologue to the rest of the movie, but it feels like its own short film rather than part of a cohesive story. And I’m sure the difference between those first twenty minutes and the rest of the film is part of why this film got negative reviews after its release.

In addition, there were never any moments where I felt a huge surge of terror; Lasombra’s personal trauma is supposed to be very important but is only really explored near the end of the film when its impact on the audience won’t be that strong; and I’m sure there are people who won’t like the final twist, or get the philosophical mumbo-jumbo from the cult.

That last part wasn’t a big turn off for me, but I can see it being a turn off for others.

All in all, though, I can see how The Empty Man could receive a cult following and has been doing so much better since being released to streaming and home media. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’ll give it a 4.2. It’s strange, creepy and compelling. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think you should check it out and find out if it’s yours.

Don’t let nothing stop you from watching it.*

*That makes plenty of sense if you’ve seen the movie.

Okay, I’m not ready to start work on a new novel. I’m ready to start researching and outlining a novel. As well as working on some new short stories, novelettes and novellas now that I’ve finished editing a bunch of stories. But that’s not going to make a catchy title, will it?

Anyway, I’ve been itching to write another novel for a while now. But I had three novels I was either editing or trying to find a publisher for, so I held off. But The Pure World Comes is published (and hopefully will be in paperback and ebook next year), River of Wrath is being shopped around (I hope to have news on that someday soon), and Toyland will likely get another draft in the near future. So, I think I can do another novel now.

And I know what novel I’m going to work on. But first, let me tell you a short story:

Back in 2017, my sister took me to see a movie for my birthday. Which movie, you might ask? Why, it was the latest Mummy reboot! The one Universal desperately hoped would launch their own horror-themed cinematic universe after 2014’s Dracula Untold was, while a moderate success, not as big as they wanted. Ironically, The Mummy ended up being terrible and failing at the box office, killing the Dark Universe franchise before it could get off the ground.

While I appreciated my sister going to the movies with me, I couldn’t help but think of ways that the film could have been better. And eventually, all that thinking led to this idea of a story. A novel. One that I thought would be a lot of fun to write.

This is the novel I’m going to write. A mummy story I’m going to call Crawler. And that’s all I’m going to say about the story now. But let me just say, after growing and mutating in my brain for four years, it’s looking to be one hell of a scary story.

I probably won’t start writing it until after my vacation (more on that in another post). However, I will be working on an outline, and I already bought the one reference book I’ll need for research (the rest I can probably get from a Google search). And prior to my vacation, I’ll be working on some shorter stuff that I’ve been dying to work on lately. Hopefully one or two of them will not only be scary, but worth reading.

Who doesn’t love a mummy story?

But yeah, this is happening. And I really hope I can eventually share it with you. I’ll let you know how it goes. And in the meantime, if you’re looking for something to read for the Halloween season, or if you’d like to support me, I’ll include links to my published works below. There’s plenty of scary stories there, so check them out. And if you read them, let me know what you think. Your reviews can help not just me, but all sorts of readers.

Now if you need me, I’m going to start work on an outline and character sheet before I go to bed. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

The Pure World Comes: Readict app (free with ads)

The Dark Sire Issue 8: Amazon

Into the Deep: Paperback, Ebook

The Quiet Game: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Snake: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

It’s a James Wan horror film. He’s the guy behind Saw, Insidious and the Conjuring films. Nuff said.

Malignant follows Madison Mitchell, a woman who becomes connected to several murders in the Seattle area, starting when her abusive husband is murdered by a mysterious intruder. Not only that, but Madison becomes witness to the murders in dreams, committed by a mysterious figure named Gabriel. As the police attempt to figure out the connection, Madison’s sister learns a secret from the former’s past. A rather disturbing and deadly secret.

This film started out rather slow and kinda typical for an average horror film, but it got better with time. And honestly, it was really interesting.

Malignant is rather atypical of a horror film. James Wan made it more of a giallo film, which is an Italian genre mixing mystery-thriller with suspense and horror (they were quite influential on slashers). The result is a mostly well-done balance between a crazy crime thriller and a strange horror film, especially in scenes like in the Seattle Underground. And the final reveal is rather ingenious, with some very nice body horror that made me shout in my own living room in shock.

Also, what a film score! It was kind of all over the place, but it was still interesting to listen to.

However, the film’s first twenty minutes or so did feel a little cliched and below-average for a horror film. And the ending was kind of a let down for me. Something much darker would’ve worked better for me. And they do bring down the film’s score for me.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’ll give Malignant a 3.4. Yeah, there’s a lot of interesting stuff in the film, and ooh, that twist! What an image! I’m going to dream of that for years. However, there’s a lot that could have been improved or done differently. If you want to watch it, go ahead. It’s in theaters and on HBO Max. Still, it’s not the best thing I’ve seen this year. Not by far.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m going to bed so I can hang with friends and maybe do some editing tomorrow. Good night, and pleasant nightmares!

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I did one of these! No kidding, the last one was December 4th, 2020. What a gap. Thanks to my friend and fellow writer Iseult Murphy for reminding me this is a thing and to do it again.

So, if you’re unfamiliar with #FirstLineFriday, this was a meme I used to do quite often as a way to get people’s opinions of opening lines for stories (opening lines can be the hardest part of writing fiction sometimes). Here are the rules I usually went with:

  1. Create a post on your blog called #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first line or two of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed/published story.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback and try to get them to try #FirstLineFriday themselves on their blogs. Tagging is encouraged but not necessary.

This time, however, I’m doing it with a twist. I’ve been lucky enough to have a bunch of publications recently, including two novelettes and a novel. So, I’m going to give you the first three openings of each of these works! Triple Publication Edition! Woo-hoo!

First, we have “Cressida,” my mermaid horror story, which was released in Into the Deep, from Jazz House Publications. I’m really proud of this story and think it’s some of my best work. And my dad, who just read it recently, agrees. Enjoy:

Mark Honig drove the rental car towards his uncle’s beach home. On the driver’s side was a great cliff face dappled with green moss, while on the other side the ocean lapped against the cliff face dappled with barnacles and mollusks.

“Cressida,” Into the Deep, July 2021.

It’s a quiet opening, but at least it paints an image in your head. Enough to make you keep reading and get to the good stuff, I hope.

Our next story is “Blood and Paper Skin,” which is being serialized in Issues 8-10 of The Dark Sire. The story is about a bunch of teens that end up trapped in a jail-like room in someone’s basement for a dark purpose. I’m looking forward to how people react to the conclusion. For now, though, here’s the opening:

Grey held onto the side of Mark’s Chevy Tahoe for dear life, cursing his supposed best friend for making him endure the chilly winds whipping around the car. How the hell did I end up in this situation? he wondered for the millionth time.

“Blood and Paper Skin,” The Dark Sire Issue 8, July 31, 2021.

A guy hanging onto the side of a car. What a way to open a story. I had fun with that. And guess what? It was inspired by something I saw last year on my birthday.

And last but definitely not least, the opening of my novel The Pure World Comes. This was published on the Readict app, run by VitaleTek Inc. The novel follows a maid in Victorian England who goes to work for a mad scientist. It’s my love letter to Victorian England and to Gothic literature.

A stream of shit and piss fell from the second floor of the Avondale house to the street below, where it mixed with the piss, shit and mud that already littered the avenue. From the second-floor window of Mr. Avondale’s dressing room, Shirley Dobbins put down the chamber pot belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Avondale and picked up the one belonging to their daughter, Miss Lucinda.

The Pure World Comes Ch. 1, August 2021

How many novels start with piss and shit? I don’t know, but this one does! And it sums up Victorian living in many ways.

But what do you think of these openings? Did anything catch your eyes and make you want to read more? Let me know in the comments below. And if you want to read the rest of the stories, I’ll leave the links for them below.

And as for who should do this next, I’m going to tag Priscilla Bettis, Allen Huntsman, and Brian B Baker. You don’t have to, but it would tickle me if you did. And I hope you’ll tag back here if you do the challenge.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. It’s past midnight, so I’ll see all your comments in the morning. Until next time (which should be soon, believe it or not), pleasant nightmares!

The Pure World Comes: Readict app (free with ads)

The Dark Sire Issue 8: Amazon

Into the Deep: Paperback, Ebook

I’ve been working on editing a collection of original short stories for the past month and a half. I was shopping this collection around, but after getting a few rejections, I thought I’d spend some time on the collection and see if I could edit the stories and make them better.

Since July, I’ve been going over each story, taking out the weak ones or the ones that will need more than a single draft to be polished up and making the rest presentable for submission. And as of today, after rewriting the final third of the final story, I’m done with the collection!

Honestly, I’m glad I decided to take another look at some of these stories. It had been a while since I looked at some of them, so I noticed problems that I hadn’t noticed before. One story needed a lot more added to the ending before I could call it finished. Another needed an entire section taken out for being extraneous. One story needed to be removed because it needs a lot more work before I can consider putting it out for publication. And one was just terrible, so I trashed it (sometimes it happens).

But overall, I’m satisfied with the work I did on this collection. And as I sip a beer and write this post, I think I’m ready to send this collection out again. Whether or not it’ll find a publisher, I’m not sure, but I think it’ll be a lot more successful in that department than I was before. And if I still have trouble, I have enough confidence in these stories that I think I could self-publish it without any issues.

Or without too many issues, at least.

Anyway, besides submitting this collection, I’ll be putting the final touches on a few other projects before sending them out. After that, I have two stories I’ll need to edit before I can submit them anywhere. And after that…I don’t know. I definitely want to work on some more shorter works, but I’m also warming up to the idea of starting work on another novel. Maybe this November or December (though not as a NaNoWriMo project). We’ll see what happens.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got a collection to start shopping around. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares and WATCH OUT FOR THE AX MURDERER!!!

Hi everyone! Just a quick update on events I’ll be at.

First off, a reminder: Indie Author Book Expo in Aurora, Illinois is cancelled! Don’t show up at the Prisco Community Center on September 11th, 2021! Yeah, this pandemic is messing up a lot of events. But anyway, don’t show up at the event if you’re in the area.

However, October is going to have a few events. As you already know, I’m going to be at the Licking County Local Author Festival on Saturday, October 16th, in Newark, Ohio. It’ll be at the Downtown Library at 101 W. Main Street. I’ll be selling copies of my books in time for Halloween and selling Halloween knickknacks to boot.

And guess what? Something’s being planned for Wednesday, October 13th in Columbus. Name of the event and other details haven’t been finalized yet, but we’ve got a venue and a time and date. I’ll hopefully have more for you soon enough.

Anyway, that’s all for now. This is, as I said, just a quick update. If any more events turn up, or if there are any changes, I’ll let you know. And if you’re not able to make those events, I’ll leave links to my work below. That way you can check them out yourself if you so desire (and getting this close to Halloween, I highly recommend it).

Until next time, Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares!

The Pure World Comes: Readict app

The Quiet Game: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Snake: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

What would happen if I featured my faith more in my stories? Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on Jews in the media I consume.

As you probably know, in addition to being an eldritch abomination from another universe in human form, I’m Jewish (we need faith too, you know). I’m not super-religious, but I follow many rituals and feel close to my heritage and my definition of God. But except for a couple of stories, my religion doesn’t really show in my writing. Or at least, characters who share my faith don’t show up in my stories a lot.

There could be a lot of reasons for that. Part of it could be that horror, the genre I’m drawn to and find most exciting, doesn’t necessarily need religion. Horror may draw on religious beliefs a lot, but that doesn’t mean the stories are religious. Religious elements are just tools for telling a good horror story. Also, Judaism itself isn’t really a scary religion. We don’t have a Devil or Hell, and demons and evil spirits are still subservient to God’s Will and Plan. Beyond golems and dybbuks, the biggest sources of horror for us is our history of being oppressed. And finally, I may have never felt a real need to emphasize the beliefs of my characters. It just doesn’t matter that much. Unless I need to state it, their religion is, “Whatever.”

But lately, I’ve been thinking a bit about that. It started with an essay on Variety about Jews in Hollywood and how we’re represented that brought up some good points. I’ll let you read the article yourself, but it made me aware that I don’t see many members of my faith in the media I consume. And that includes in horror. Yeah, there are some: Stan Uris in IT; Yakov Ronen in The Vigil (one of the best horror films I’ve seen yet this year); Tzadok in The Possession (played by musician Matisyahu, believe it or not); and then some.

But still, it’s a small number. And in an age with resurgent anti-Semitism, I feel like that’s something that needs to change.

Besides, I want to challenge myself. What kind of stories can I tell with a Jewish character as a lead? And not just any kind of Jew, but an amalgamation of the Jews I’ve known throughout my life, from secular to religious and old to young, from all walks of life and all types of spirituality? What if I decided, for a few stories, not to make their religions “whatever?”

Well, I actually already know the answer to that. As you probably are aware, my short story “The Divorce from God” is to appear in The Jewish Book of Horror this holiday season, and a short story in this collection I’m working on has two Jewish men as the leads. And I like to think both stories are good (I only have confirmation of one).

But what if I expand that? What if I tell more tales–not all of them, but some of them–with my fellow members of the Tribe? What if their faith is both an aspect of themselves, though not the only one, and a source of strength? What if the lead is that amalgamation I mentioned?

Well, perhaps I’ll find out sooner rather than later. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m thinking of working on another novel after I’ve finished editing this collection and a couple more stories. And while I don’t think it’s necessary for the lead, I can also see them being Jewish. It could actually fit them very well.

We’ll see what the future holds.

I look forward to the stories I write in this vein.

You know, it’s funny. At one point when I was young, a grown up tried telling me I should write less horror and more of what I know. Which at the time was mainly going to a Jewish day school, having rabbis for parents and being annoyed by my sisters. I absolutely refused, telling this well-meaning grown up “that would be boring.” I think they were worried I was going to turn out to be some psychopath who murdered people in basements and then wrote about it (we horror lovers and creators are so misunderstood!). Still, I wasn’t going to write something I wasn’t attracted to or found boring. Stories are an escape from reality, not a regurgitation!

Now I want to incorporate what I know into a horror story. I guess it’s true what they say, when people “write what they know,” they’re writing it in a completely different way than expected. I wonder that well-meaning adult would make of this now? Hopefully they’d be intrigued enough to read it (and realize I grew up much more well-adjusted than they anticipated).

Anyway, it’s late and this post has gotten insanely long. I’m going to sign off and say Shabbat Shalom, an early Happy New Year (Rosh Hashanah starts Monday evening, it’s our New Year), pleasant nightmares, and a good night. See you next time, my Followers of Fear!

Have you ever written part of or an entire novel, and then nothing has happened to it? Maybe you edited the hell out of it and tried to find a publisher. Maybe you got some feedback from a beta reader that made you hesitate to put it out in the world. Or maybe you realized that, as much as you loved it and as much work as you put into it, it’s not very good and you’re better off moving on. So this project you’ve worked months or even years on gets put away, stored in a box or on a shelf or in a file drive to gather dust and likely never see the light of day.

If you have one of these novels, you have a “trunk novel.”

What are trunk novels, you may be asking? Well, trunk novels are as I said above: novels that were put away because, for one reason or another, they weren’t suitable to be released or marketed. Prior to computer storage, you might literally put them in a trunk so nobody ever saw them but you. Hence the name.

At least, I think that’s how it got its name. Tracking down the origin of the term was kind of impossible.

In any case, it happens more than we like to admit. We write a story and no matter how hard we try, it doesn’t get past the first draft or never leaves our computers. We may have thought it was the next big thing, or something that could have been published and been a small success, or at least could have gotten a publisher or agent interested. But in the end, it just doesn’t cut the mustard in one way or another, so it gets stowed away somewhere. You may say you’ll work on it again someday, but rarely does that happen.

And it happens to all of us. Really. Even Stephen King has them. He wrote four novels before Carrie was published. Only one of the previous three, Rage, was ever published (and King kind of regrets that). I did a poll in one or two horror writing groups I belong to, and all of the people who answered have trunk novels somewhere in their pasts.

I have several from my younger years, finished and unfinished, that are trunk novels. And one of the novels I wrote in college, Laura Horn, which I am still really proud of, is pretty much a trunk novel now. Why? Several reasons, but the fact that some of the events in the book resemble events that occurred in recent years might have something to do with it. Putting the book out given what’s happened in the last five years just feels wrong.

And I guess you could consider the Reborn City books trunk novels, even though I previously self-published them before taking them out of circulation.

And you know what? That’s alright. Yeah, our feelings towards our trunk novels may sometimes be complex. And we may regret at times that the stories never saw the light of day. But they are still important milestones in our career. They are the results learning to become writers, to learn what works in writing fiction and in learning the discipline of writing. They are the foundation of becoming us. Of becoming the authors we were meant to be.

So, as much as it sucks when a novel goes into the trunk, don’t regret it or feel too bad. It’s just another foundation stone in what is becoming your career.

Do you think I should get one of these and put literal manuscripts inside?

All that being said, I hope none of my completed, as of yet unpublished novels go into the trunk. I’m still shopping around River of Wrath with the hopes of finding a publisher for it, and I plan to work on Toyland again someday soon in the hopes of shopping that around too. What will happen to them? I honestly don’t know. But if they do end up in the trunk? Well, at least I had a hell of a time working on them and honing my skills with them.

Do you have any trunk novels? Would you mind talking about them with me? How do you feel about them? Let’s discuss.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I still have time left in the evening and I have only one story left in the collection I’ve been editing, so I’m going to get to work on that. Afterwards, I have a couple more short stories to edit (including one with dragon bats in it), and then…well, I’m not sure. A couple of new short stories? Perhaps a new novel? I’ve certainly been itching to get into something longer. And now that The Pure World Comes is out (check it out on the Readict app), I think I can afford to put together another sixty thousand-plus word story of terror and woe. We’ll see what happens.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares and–OH NO! MY TRUNK NOVELS, AS WELL AS MY TRUNK NOVELLAS, TRUNK NOVELETTES, AND TRUNK SHORT STORIES, HAVE BEEN COMBINED TO FORM A GIANT MONSTER MADE OF PAPER! Excuse me while I get the boom stick and fight it off. Ta ta!

During the slasher craze of the 1980s and 1990s, Tony Todd’s Candyman was a killer who brought a gravitas, elegance and a deeper origin story to his gruesome work. It’s a shame that he only got three films (and from what I hear, I didn’t miss much not seeing the sequels), because he’s become such a beloved character. So when word got out that Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Production company was making what was basically a soft reboot, people were both curious, excited, and more than a little worried.

I saw the film last night and wanted to share my thoughts as soon as possible. But I was tired when I got home last night, so I held off until I had the energy to do so. And folks, I can tell you now that the Candyman still slays like he used to.

And yes, Tony Todd’s Candyman is in this movie. In case you were worried.

Serving as a direct sequel to the original movie (a la 2018’s Halloween), Candyman follows Anthony McCoy, a Chicago artist who hears a version of the events from the first film from his girlfriend’s brother. Interested, he heads to Cabrini-Green to learn more, and there discovers the story of the Candyman. What seems at first to be a simple urban legend turns out to be so much more. And Anthony finding the legend is more than just coincidence. It may even be considered destiny.

First off, I enjoyed the kills in this film. We mostly see the Candyman in reflections from mirrors and windows, which allows for some scary moments and some creative kills (*cough* art critic’s apartment *cough*). I also enjoyed how they re-approached the myth of the Candyman, changing it so that multiple people have taken on the mantle of Candyman so that every generation can recontextualize the myth and have a killer for the age. And the story is very well-written, balancing horror, elements of destiny and the cycle of history with social commentary (mostly race and gentrification).

Also, I love how flashbacks and storytelling is mixed between people talking, shadow puppetry, and flashbacks. It makes for some great visuals.

I did find some elements of the film predictable, however. I guessed one element of the film way early just from some slight foreshadowing, and was right! And there are some moments of info-dumping that I thought could have been done slightly better.

All told, I’m giving 2021’s Candyman a 4.4 out of 5. It’s a visceral, well-done story that brings Candyman back into the spotlight where he should be. And, if it does well, I can see this film being the launching point for numerous sequels and prequels around the new aspects of the mythology.* Grab a ticket, say his name five times in the mirror, and get ready for a bloody good time.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll likely be taking a break from reviews for a couple of weeks to focus on some reflection/writing posts and my own editing. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

*And before that, I need to rewatch the original and watch the sequels. I can’t believe how many things I forgot from the first film! I need to remedy that and watch the sequels, even if they aren’t that amazing. Maybe I’ll start on that tonight.