Sweets to the Sweet. This phrase is tagged across the many abandoned flats of Spector Street Estate, a housing development once touted for its beauty, quickly fallen into disrepair and despair. Helen is studying this graffiti, this art. Equipped with her camera, she captures the essence of this deteriorating area. Soon she discovers there’s more behind the messages and writing than just civil disobedience. Something more sinister. Secrets to keep, a community to protect. Urged to find more information on recent stories of murders that happened on and around the property, Helen embarks on a journey into the unknown, hunting the urban legend. Little does she know that the urban legend may be hunting her.
The Forbidden is a short story by Clive Barker that inspired the movie Candyman. It is a story about urban legends come to life, of how a downtrodden community protects their own. Any that are familiar with Barker’s writing knows that he has a way of creating a setting. The juxtaposition of new construction that was the pride of the city that quickly turned into abandoned flats and tagged walls are beautifully described from the outset. His depiction of the dilapidated housing estate sets the mood early, while in sharp contrast to Helen’s home life with Trevor clearly separates the haves from the have nots.
Along with his setting of mood and tone early on, Barker increases the tension as a slow burn at first, but then cranks up the heat (*spoiler: quite literally at the end) and the readers are racing toward the character's final demise. This is one of those stories where I can’t definitively decide which is better, the story or the movie. For me, Candyman was one of my favorites and still is. We don’t get an origin story in The Forbidden, but the classic line of, “Be my victim” is there. And the premise of immortality through victim-hood and fatality underlies the end. While Tony Todd is and forever will be the Candyman, Barker’s portrayal of him in The Forbidden was different, but no less creeptastic. I recommend most of Barker’s work as he is truly a master of horror.
You can check out our review of another Clive Barker classic HERE!