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Look around, in any direction, and the margins between horror and everyday life are disturbingly thin, if they’re present at all. In 2020, the terrors of a global pandemic, natural disasters, and police brutality are as tangible as the grip of a boogeyman. That doesn’t mean fictional dread no longer has its place.

For Nia DaCosta, the director behind the remake of the 1992 horror classic Candyman, it’s as relevant and crucial as ever.

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“What’s great about horror is that horror stays with you after you leave the theater. You can say every great film stays with you, but horror really gets in your psyche,” DaCosta said at an event honoring this year's WIRED25 list. Her updated version of Candyman still has the eponymous villain—who, according to urban legend, shows up when people say his name five times in the mirror—but she’s layered modern real-life horrors into the story’s supernatural fears. Like the original, DaCosta’s remake takes place in Chicago’s Cabrini–Green neighborhood—only now, the former housing project has been gentrified, its history paved over with a white, minimalist gloss. It’s here where the movie’s protagonist, a visual artist named Anthony McCoy, rediscovers the tale of the Candyman. The film engages with the all-too-earthly violences of police brutality, the history of lynching in America, and the exploitation of Black art.

Horror, DaCosta notes, offers an ideal template for weaving actual traumas into frightful tropes, but it isn’t the only genre she’s used to explore real-world concerns. Her breakout debut, Little Woods, is a Western thriller that stars Tessa Thompson and Lily James as sisters dealing with poverty and lack of access to reproductive health care in a rural town in the grip of an opioid crisis. Next up? DaCosta is rumored to be directing the sequel to Captain Marvel, which could give her the opportunity to bring her talents to the superhero genre.

When it came to reimagining Candyman for the present, DaCosta wanted to emphasize the expansion of the mythology—particularly in developing its deadly antagonist. “Candyman himself is an iconic villain, so I think what we’re able to do in this film is pull back the curtain on what makes a villain. Who calls a monster a monster? Who decides that? That’s a lot of what our story is about,” she said at today’s event.

Although Candyman’s release has been delayed to 2021, DaCosta remains confident about the film industry’s future once the Covid-19 pandemic is over. “People are always going to go see movies in theaters,” she noted. She’s also hopeful for more Black voices that realize fully-fledged Black characters. She wants her filmmaking to foster empathy and understanding beyond superficial amusement with Black movies and music. In Candyman, that starts with the interplay of fears, spectral and social. “Understanding the horror of a ghost or a serial killer can be tangible for people who don’t understand Black trauma, Black horror, Black pain,” she said. The hope, in the end, is that the audience walks out aware of the real pain that haunts their own communities, and the ghosts on their side of the mirror.

Portrait by Rachel Murray/Getty Images.

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MWC has again been postponed until June 2021 due to the pandemic

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CDC director says more than 90% of Americans remain susceptible to the coronavirus

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield speaks at a hearing on COVID-19 response held by the House subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 4, 2020.Al Drago | Pool via Reuters

A majority of the U.S. remains susceptible to a coronavirus infection, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told lawmakers Wednesday.

Covid-19 has spread across America at varying rates since it crossed U.S. shores in January, infecting as much as 15% to 20% of the population in some states and less than 1% in others, he said. One state said almost a quarter of its residents have had the coronavirus sometime this year, he added.

He said the CDC is in the process of a "very large" study that seeks to more precisely determine how widely the virus has spread across the country. 

The rate of infection is important because epidemiologists believe it generally conveys some immunity against the virus for at least a few months.

"The preliminary results in the first round show that a majority of our nation, more than 90% of the population, remains susceptible," he said at a Senate hearing hosted by the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. "A majority of Americans are still susceptible."

The coronavirus has infected more than 6.8 million people across the U.S., or roughly 4.8% of the U.S. population, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Census Bureau. However, the true spread of the virus is likely much higher, Redfield has previously said, as many mild and asymptomatic cases go undiagnosed. 

The comments cast even greater doubt on the feasibility of achieving so-called herd immunity, which is reached when enough of the population has developed immunity against the virus so that it cannot efficiently spread. Most scientists say 60% to 80% of the population needs to be vaccinated or develop antibodies through natural infection to achieve herd immunity, top World Health Organization officials have previously said. 

Critics of business closures and public health restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus have pointed to herd immunity without a vaccine as a potential solution to the pandemic. However, WHO officials and many epidemiologists have criticized the strategy because it would likely lead to widespread disease and death. 

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last month that allowing the virus to spread without control to achieve herd immunity would bring the death toll to a level that's "totally unacceptable." 

"If you look at the United States of America with our epidemic of obesity as it were, with the number of people with hypertension, with the number of people with diabetes, if everyone got infected, the death toll would be enormous and totally unacceptable," Fauci said on Aug. 31.

Redfield's comments Wednesday come one day after the U.S. Covid-19 death toll topped 200,000, according to data from Hopkins. 

Further complicating the herd immunity approach is the matter of how antibodies against the coronavirus behave. The body typically develops antibodies to help the immune system fight off infections. Health officials have said there is not enough data yet to indicate that coronavirus antibodies ensure immunity against the virus or to determine how long any protection might last.

—CNBC's Berkeley Lovelace Jr. and Noah Higgins-Dunn contributed to this report. 

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