Review by Sean Boelman
The thing that made the 1996 supernatural horror flick The Craft such a beloved cult classic is that it connected with the teens of the day. Zoe Lister-Jones hopes to recapture that magic (or more accurately, witchcraft) with her reboot The Craft: Legacy, but in trying to appeal to both ‘90s kids and today’s youth, it ends up being an enjoyable but superficial witch saga.
The film follows a teenage girl who, after moving to a new school, discovers that she has supernatural powers and forms a coven with three of her classmates. Compared to the original, the story here is much more conventional, with a more generic villain, although Lister-Jones deserves some significant props for not simply rehashing the story of the first.
Much of the conflict feels like it is included out of obligation rather than a legitimate storytelling need. The first hour, which really just features the four characters having fun as they discover their powers, is inarguably the most enjoyable portion. By the time the villain becomes a more major factor in the third act, it feels as if the story is scrambling to its end.
Another one of the movie’s misgivings is that its ideas feel a lot more mainstream. A significant appeal of the original is how it appeals to counterculture. Since ‘90s nostalgia has become part of pop culture at large at this point, it often feels like the movie is trying too hard to be cool rather than being more naturally fun.
That said, Lister-Jones does a very good job with the character development. The biggest strength of this reboot is the fact that all four of the girls are written in a compelling way, and the dynamic between them is both believable and fun. As a film about friendship, this delivers in a sentimental but honest way.
Cailee Spaeny is good as the main teen witch, bringing a charming naivete to the role. Lovie Simone, Gideon Adlon, and Zoey Luna round out the coven and all do a solid job. As for the adult cast, the two big names are Michelle Monaghan, who is decent but underused, and David Duchovny, who goes too over-the-top.
Visually, the Twilight influence is palpable (the script even name-drops the series and its stars on multiple occasions). It’s less emo and more hipster, the four girls and the visual style as a whole being fashionable and bright. That said, the film still makes it known that it very much wants to be in the ‘90s, with the first needle drop being “Hand in My Pocket”.
For what it is, The Craft: Legacy is an enjoyable little teen movie. It’s definitely not going to connect with today’s youth like the original did in its time, nor is it going to revitalize the property as a hit franchise, but as a nostalgia trip, it’s decent enough.
The Craft: Legacy is now available on VOD.