Nia DaCosta is one of the most exciting new filmmakers working today. Not only is she coming up under Jordan Peele, who has given her his ringing endorsement as he handed over the reins to the new “Candyman” film, but she’s also recently signed on to helm “Captain Marvel 2,” which is going to give her the chance to helm a billion-dollar franchise film. But before she teams up with Brie Larson, she has to scare the pants off of audiences with “Candyman.”
Speaking at a virtual panel for Nightstream, which is the conglomeration that included the Boston Underground Film Festival, Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, North Bend Film Festival, The Overlook Film Festival, and Popcorn Frights Film Festival, DaCosta talked about her upcoming “Candyman” reboot and the double-edged sword of being a Black horror filmmaker (via /Film).
While DaCosta is making her first horror film with “Candyman,” that doesn’t mean the filmmaker is unfamiliar with the genre. In fact, when working on the new feature, she told her cast and crew to watch two horror classics for inspiration.
“The two that I told basically everyone to watch were ‘The Fly’ because it has body horror and that film is amazing,” said DaCosta. “I’m a huge [David] Cronenberg fan, and the central relationship between the two characters, the fact that it’s also sort of a love story, I really love. That was really important. And then ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ another film that I’ve loved for a long time, I think the psychological terror in that film is really great.”
She went on to discuss the influence of “Rosemary’s Baby” even further and added, “The psychological descent of that character, but also the production design and the way [Roman] Polanski photographs New York I think is really amazing, and wonderful and creepy, but very recognizable New York, and that’s something I wanted to do for Chicago. So, those were two horror movies for this movie in particular that I wanted everyone to watch.”
However, even though DaCosta is a clear fan of horror films and recognizes their important place in film, the filmmaker is still a little wary of being a Black filmmaker working in the horror genre in 2020. Not that she’s upset over the opportunity, but more that she views the situation as a bit of a double-edged sword.
“I kind of see it two-fold, right? Like, one is like it’s really great that we have this tool, I think genre is really important, especially horror,” DaCosta explained. “Then, too, really getting inside of an experience and inside of a place where they feel what the characters are feeling, at least enough to really empathize with them and to really receive the message, which I think is really important, especially when it comes to racial violence and racial trauma.”
She continued, “The other side of it is also like, those are the movies that they’re letting us make. You know? Like, especially after ‘Get Out’…And so now, people are starting to invest a little more because this very specific type of film seems to be what people want to see. What people want to see is something new, which is what ‘Get Out’ gave us, and very successfully did. So I think, on the one hand, it’s very exciting and it is very useful, it’s a great tool. This is my first studio film and it gave me an opportunity to make a movie, but I also think we need to get some different types of ways to talk about really important things like racial terror.”
Unfortunately, “Candyman” has been delayed quite a bit since its original release date earlier this year. Now, it appears we’ll have to wait until August 27, 2021, to see DaCosta’s vision for the franchise.
Here are the trailers for “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Fly,” and “Candyman” to show the differences and similiarities: