Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 34 minutes, Director – Zoe Lister-Jones
Four aspiring witches (Cailee Spaeny, Zoey Luna, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone) discover the consequences of their newly increased powers after manipulating someone in their school.
You’d be forgiven, from the posters and trailers, for thinking that The Craft: Legacy – the sort of sequel-reboot of 1996’s The Craft, courtesy of Blumhouse – was a full-on horror film. It’s dealings with witchcraft, manipulation and general dark and mystical themes would give this impression. However, sitting down to watch it it’s quite a pleasant surprise to discover that this isn’t really a horror film at all. It certainly has some themes of the genre, but more than anything else this is a teen movie about a group of friends, who just happen to be witches.
Lily (Cailee Spaeny) finds herself moving in with her Mum’s (Michelle Monaghan) partner, Adam (David Duchovny), and his three sons. It’s not long until she starts at school, and after a series of events including being mocked in class for a sudden heavy flow period she finds herself making friends with Lourdes (Zoey Luna), Tabby (Lovie Simone) and Frankie (Gideon Adlon). It’s made clear that they three are the outsiders, their own group aside from everyone else in the school. Their common ground being that they’ve all been mocked and ridiculed by class bully Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine), plus the fact that they deal in witchcraft – although that’s kept quiet. When they feel a stronger power around them, after calling for a fourth witch to come to them to complete their circle – they discover strong, undiscovered powers within Lily. The four soon form an even closer bond experimenting with their higher abilities, working their way through an expansive spell-book.
We witness montages of them developing their skills, from levitation to mind manipulation spells. It’s all rather enjoyable to watch happen, because all of it centres around the friendship of the central quartet of witches. The feeling present throughout is that of a standard teen movie, especially when the characters attend parties or are receiving glares and almost disgusted stares from everyone else in the cafeteria. It all comes together rather well, you feel engaged and connected with this clearly closely-bonded friendship, and yet the magical practices are never forgotten about. They’re always centre-stage.
The whole thing is relatively young-teenage friendly (despite a 15 rating) and it’s fairly void of darkness. There is some seriousness brought in just before the final stages as the girls begin to face the consequences of their actions, particularly manipulating Timmy for what they see as the better of everyone at school. To everyone else it appears that overnight he’s completely changed. He’s a calmer, more respectful, much, much kinder person. However, this causes conflictions within one or two of the girls, particularly Lily who begins to form a closer relationship with him over the course of the film. It’s all handled fairly well, if with a fair helping of convention, but, again, there’s no denying that it still just about clicks and flows well enough over the course of the short, and mostly concise, run-time.
Even with all of this going on the film still feels a need to properly introduce a villain, or at least make them a more present force. While you’ve likely guessed by the point of the reveal who it is the final stages seem rushed and almost pointless, a bit too easy. As if added simply to just push the film a minute or two more over the 90 minute mark. The character does feel somewhat wasted, and barely much of a threat at any stage of the piece. However, the moment does still have some ideas that can be enjoyed, and the bond between the central four remains. It’s what keeps you in the film throughout, even during some of the more seemingly by-the-books moments, and often the tone and style of the film is a real relief. It takes something from the 90’s, keeps some elements but slightly updates it with the modern teen feeling to make it something slightly different to what we’ve seen over the last few years within this genre. It clicks and works because of this style, which writer-director Zoe Lister-Jones seems to have aimed for instead of horror – a good choice to make – and overall the film works rather well. It’s not your standard horror or witchcraft film, and it’s perhaps better for that fact.
Not exactly a horror film, more a teen movie about a group of close friends who just happen to be witches, and perhaps The Craft: Legacy is better for that. There are some rather conventional moments, and a little-used antagonist, but as long as that central friendship is there it’s usually enough to help pass things by.