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The Craft: Legacy Review: Too Sweet, Too Safe, Not Witchy Enough

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BY October 29, 2020
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When I’ve written about the 1996 movie The Craft before, I’ve called it, among other things, a 90s witchgirl classic. So obviously, I was psyched to see the update, especially since it appeared to be more of a sequel than yet another reboot. Like, heck yeah, gen Z–let’s be weird and get revenge! But did that happen? Well, let’s review The Craft: Legacy and find out.

But Wait, Back to The Craft First

craft: legacy review image via Columbia Pictures

You see, way back in the 90s, you couldn’t really build a brand on the internet. The internet existed, at least for part of the 90s, but it still wasn’t widespread enough to make people into stars. Instead, you were stuck with your hometown bunch.

So while today, you can wield your quirks like a weapon, it wasn’t so back then. You were just weird. Don’t get me wrong–you could be weird and popular. But a lot of the time, you were just the weird kid. And that was something The Craft understood.

Each of the girls at its center had their own issues. One thing they shared, though, is their outcast status. They had all drifted together as a trio, eventually pulling in the fourth who would help consolidate their power. Because despite all the drama that ensued, that is what 90s teenage girls took away from that movie. I’m reminded of a line from Robin Wasserman’s 90s-set book, Girls on Fire:

Girls had to believe in everything but their own power, because if girls knew what they could do, imagine what they might.

So at its heart, The Craft was a power fantasy, albeit one with a moral about abusing that power that plays out in an admittedly problematic way. You get to have good friends, dress cool, and get back at the bullies who made you feel small. And you did all that not in spite of being a teenage girl, but because of it. The appeal then is obvious.

The Craft: Legacy Plot

At first, The Craft: Legacy follows similar beats as its predecessor. We meet Lily (Cailee Spaeny), who’s moving across the country with her mom, Helen (Michelle Monaghan), so they can live with her boyfriend, Adam (David Duchovny). Adam, a self-help guru for men, is an intense presence from the beginning and his kids–three basically dour sons–don’t do a whole lot to make Lily feel at home. And that’s all before she has to tackle a new high school.

On her first day, in what may be her first class, Lily experiences a classic teenage girl nightmare scenario. She gets her period in class, and worse, she’s not the first one to notice. No, that falls on another teenage classic, the jock jerk Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine). As she’s marinating in her mortification in the restroom, a trio of girls comes to rescue her. They are Frankie (Gideon Adlon), Tabby (Lovie Simone), and Lourdes (Zoey Luna). They are also aspiring witches, who’ve been waiting for a fourth to join their coven.

And again, why wouldn’t she want to? They have a lot of laughs together and they also get to pull off fun, if inconsequential, spells. But then, just as in the original, they try something a little more challenging. Why not make Timmy a little more pleasant to be around? Sure, the end result is that he basically turns up as the WokeBot 3000, but that’s a lot more tolerable than the very teenage boy he was before.

The Craft: Legacy Review

craft: legacy review image via Sony Pictures

These establishing scenes, when the coven is learning how to flex its powers, are charming. Unfortunately, though, they’re not very exciting. Despite their power, none of the girls ever feels that dangerous. I mean, I don’t think so–we don’t really get to know any of them outside Lily, and what we know about her is pretty sparse, too.

They’re all just nice girls, really. And they speak like someone fed a steady stream of Tumblr posts to a computer. I’m reminded of Black Christmas, which also tried to meld a social justice theme to its plot. Like that movie, this movie’s main characters often read less as real people and more as right-wing meme stereotypes. I would have appreciated a little more nuance.

And I also would have appreciated more horror in this horror movie. There’s a good sense of dread in the beginning and middle of the film, at least for me. I kept waiting for something witchy to happen. It never really did, though. In the final half hour, when the movie reveals its villain (who is, by the way, the most obvious suspect), it doesn’t have the impact it should. Like the girls, the villain just doesn’t feel that dangerous. Not only does that rob the movie of any real horror, it also strips it of surprise. Even the final reveal, which is obviously setting up for a sequel, comes as no shock.

There is potential here. But if there is a(nother) sequel, I hope it focuses more on fleshing out its characters and its story than this movie did. This movie is too rushed, too slight, and not the legacy I hoped it would be.

The Craft: Legacy is available for rental and sale on platforms like Amazon Prime Video.

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featured image via Sony Pictures

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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at salome@comicyears.com.

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