'Corona Man' Turns COVID-19 Into a Real-Life Horror Movie

The 'Candyman'-inspired trailer reimagines the coronavirus pandemic as the villain at the center of the forthcoming horror film remake.
May 1, 2020, 11:00am
Screenshot of 'Corona Man'

It might be a while before we can experience new movies in a theater again. With independent movie theaters struggling to stay afloat and Trolls: World Tour's straight-to-TV success, there's no telling what the fate of the cinema industry will look like. Studios must decide whether to offer upcoming films to streaming services or delay their release entirely.

Initially set for a June release, Jordan Peele and Nia DaCosta's Candyman remake is now scheduled for a fall premiere. No one knows for sure when life will "go back to normal," or if that's even possible—but a parody trailer for the film provides some insight.

Corona Man is a clever remake of Candyman that trades a sinister boogeyman for coronavirus. Released earlier this week, the trailer is going viral, and we want nothing more than to see it as a full-length film.

Created by Bobby Huntley II, Corona Man is almost a frame-for-frame interpretation of this year's Candyman trailer. Billed by Huntley as a warning—or as the opening credits puts it, "a gentle reminder" to "take yo ass home"—the short explores the consequences of Georgia, and a predominantly Black city like Atlanta, reopening prematurely.

Anthony, played by Diezie Sahn, is experiencing major cabin fever—like the rest of us. Seeing that Georgia has lifted the quarantine, he decides to return to his normal routine. His decision is met with apprehension from everyone from his girlfriend Bri, (Danielle Maner) to the community elders who refuse to shake his hand.

"This ain't about you and what you want to do, Anthony," Maner says. "This is about keeping our community safe."

By the end, Anthony's choice to ignore the severity of the virus backfires. He's showing symptoms despite it being deemed "safe" to be outside.

"You don't think they want us to become another body?" a voice says. "Another terrible statistic?"

Corona Man is a caricature of the tension between Georgia governor Brian Kemp and Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, but that discord has real ramifications.

Last week, Kemp announced that gyms, hair salons, barber shops, and a slew of other businesses would be reopening on April 24, albeit with new requirements to help curb the spread of the virus. Bottoms, however, disagreed with Kemp's decision.

"We still are not testing asymptomatic [people] and people with mild symptoms, so I still don't think we have a clear picture of what our real numbers are," she told WSB-TV last week.

Bottoms is right to be concerned. Black communities across the country are being hit hard by coronavirus. The results are often fatal. In March, the Poynter Institute debunked the myth that melanin somehow made Black people immune to the virus. By April, it was clear that Black communities were actually dying at higher rates than others. The fatalities in major cities like Chicago, Detroit, and New Orleans were largely from Black residents, despite those communities being minorities in their respective states.

"We're seeing tremendous evidence that African Americans are affected at a far greater percentage number than other citizens of our country," Donald Trump said in a press conference earlier this month. "But why is it that the African American community is so much, numerous times more than everybody else? We want to find the reason to it."

The answers are not hard to understand. The country's essential workers are largely comprised of minorities, including Black Americans, who haven't been able to wait out the virus in the comfort of their homes. Racial biases in the health field means that Black patients could be less likely to be tested for COVID-19. Longstanding discrimination, including food and housing disparities, contribute to "weathering" which leave Black communities susceptible to chronic health conditions like hypertension or diabetes—underlying diseases that increase vulnerability to coronavirus.

Although Huntley's trailer is not a feature film, in just under three minutes, his video manages to capture the gravity of the negative effects the Black community could face as the pandemic continues. Corona Man expertly subverts the original plot of Bernard Rose's 1992 film; Candyman preyed on the perceived threat of Black men in the age of the superpredator. It made the image of a Black man from the hood something to fear.

Huntley's version is rooted in the awareness that if we're not careful, policy can be deadlier than a man with a hook.

Kristin Corry is a staff writer for VICE.