In this humble writers opinion one of the most difficult things in any reviewers job is when a film is absolutely, positively, deliberately and completely aimed at a demographic you have very little knowledge about in this case teenage girls growing up in 2020.
As a middle aged Dad of a 5 year old the tumultuously chaotic and dramatic landscape of a older teen whatever gender is beyond my comprehension and no matter how many Insta stories, YouTube and TikTok videos I watch I am not going to understand them (I am also starting to build up a pretty worrying search history!)
What I do know is horror and thankfully The Craft: Legacy is in part a horror film, a horror film that is a reboot slash reimagining slash sequel to the 1996 teen horror The Craft staring Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True.
Coming out at the time of Charmed and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Craft was a surprise hit and has since gained a great cult following due in part to its plot detailing the journey of four outcast who practice witchcraft to transform their social status in school before things get disturbingly out of control.
24 years later witches are back in a big way with Blumhouse Productions The Craft: Legacy coming out while reboots of Charmed and the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina play on streaming services everywhere. A very progressive update the story is very similar as we join three high school outcasts Frankie (Blockers Gideon Adlon) , Tabby (Greenleaf’s Lovie Simone), and Lourdes (Raising Zoey’s Zoey Luna) all aspiring witches desperate to find a fourth to complete their coven.
Enter Lily (Cailee Spaeny last seen in Dev’s) who has moved to town with her mum (Mission: Impossible star Michelle Monaghan) to start a new family with her boyfriend self-help guru Adam (X-Files David Duchovny) and his 3 boys. After a embarrassing and traumatic first day the girls come to Lilly’s aid and unwittingly unleash her powers which are unlike anything the other have ever seen.
Finally united in sorcery and sisterhood and far stronger than ever the foursome enjoy their newfound powers of telepathy, telekinesis, shapeshifting and stoping time vowing to always use them in a positive way. Starting with a spell to cause a maturity metamorphosis in the school bully making him into his best self, things seem to be going well however the empowered young women have no idea of the danger lurking in their lives that will try to tear away their gifts for good.
Written and directed by actress turned filmmaker Zoe Lister-Jones the movie is competently made with the feel of a feature length TV pilot rather than a big budget blockbuster. That said the subjects the script takes on are extensive and impressive from dealing with gender identity to sexual orientation to racism to mental health issues and much more. Using its supernatural story line it tries to directly talk to teens of today in a non-patronising and open way to provoke discussion as well as entertain.
Central to The Craft: Legacy as in most tales of witchcraft from Witchfinder General to American Horror Story: Coven is the battle of the genders and the exploration of female power which male patriarchy is unable to understand or control. In true Carrie style Lilly’s talents emerge when she starts menstruating unfortunately in class and this growth from girlhood to womanhood not only unlocks her Wiccan talents but also brings about her friendship with the others.
A 90’s classic like the original movie David Duchovny aptly named Adam is set against the girls from the start with his strict rules and superiority complex injecting insidious archaic chauvinism into the towns teenage boys with his macho male bonding sessions.
What is different in The Craft: Legacy is its inclusive attitude, not only making one of the main characters Trans and played by a transgender actress but also seeing the modern coven strive to change the world rather than the antiheroes of the original who were only concerned with revenge and popularity.
The cast are excellent especially the leads who all light up the screen providing plenty of pathos and charm and showcasing they all have bright careers ahead of them. The main issue with The Craft: Legacy for horror lovers is the lack of horror meaning those not engaged with the characters drama and dilemmas may loose interest early on however fans of the original should still stick with the movie till the very end for a final reel revelation that will make them very happy.
There is an audience out there who will love this movie and the fact that I am not a part of it does not change the fact that it is a valid interpretation of a cult classic. Yes it might lack the bite of the original but in making an honest attempt to tackle some serious and sensitive subjects effecting the teens of today what The Craft: Legacy lacks in horror it makes up for in heart and thats no mean feat.