October 30, 2020 The Craft: Legacy (Movie Review)
The Craft instantly became a cult classic when it hit theaters in 1996. Enticing those on the outside, The Craft was like a shock to the system. However, this female-centered tale was penned and directed by men. Now, Writer/Director Zoe Lister-Jones (Consumed 2015, Band Aid 2017) has teamed up with Blumhouse to release The Craft: Legacy, both a reboot and continuation of the original. Available On Demand beginning October 28th, The Craft: Legacy attempts to breathe new life into the cult classic.
Like its predecessor, The Craft: Legacy begins with the new girl in town, Lily (Cailee Spaeny: Vice 2017, Devs mini-series), whose mom (Michelle Monaghan: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 2005, Gone Baby Gone 2007) is moving in with her mysterious new beau (David Duchovny: The X-Files series, Californication series). Lily quickly forms a close blond with a coven of teen witches: Tabby (Lovie Simone: Greenleaf series, Selah and the Spades 2019), Lourdes (Zoey Luna: Pose series), and Frankie (Gideon Adlon: The Society series, The Mustang 2019). Struggling to find their power without a fourth member, the girls wrap Lily into their fold and take their magical abilities to the next level. When things begin to get out of control, the bonds of their sisterhood are put to the test.
The story moves at almost a breakneck pace, quickly bouncing from idea to idea but never resolving most of what it begins. The first two acts have the potential to build toward something meaningful, but too many missteps frustrate and dissatisfy as the film never quite decides whether it wants to be a lighthearted magical romp or a dark dive into deeper social issues. Unfortunately there are just too many characters and ideas, most of which are not given the time to develop—including the main villain.
The Craft: Legacy is tough to define all around. The film feels like both a sequel and a reboot. The coven is quite similar to the original four, just with some necessary, contemporary updates. The plot follows that of its predecessor in certain ways, but fails to create tension in a way that feels satisfying. There are a few nods to the original, too, but they often feel forced. Even with the minor modern improvements, The Craft: Legacy tries to be too many things at once and fails to find its own personality. Any of the sharp edges that made the original so iconic have been sanded away.
Plot points that might be interesting are left unexplored. So much is crammed into its short runtime that any attempted big moment feels unearned. Lister-Jones seems to want to explore and redefine gender stereotypes, masculinity, and sexuality, but all that gets pushed aside in favor of lighthearted magical montages. Still, the film is saved by its cast and the girl power of its coven. Anyone who has ever been bullied is sure to find joy in these teen witches taking matters into their own hands.
What The Craft: Legacy does best is bring the original’s unique brand of feminism to a new era. Each of the young women in the coven is diverse, and the social issues touched upon are relevant. However, many of those issues are only hinted at rather than explored in a more meaningful way. That being said, each of the incredible actors in the coven gives their all in their performances. No doubt Lovie Simone will be taking over screens in the coming years, as she steals nearly every scene she is in.
The Craft certainly has its problems, but its status as a cult classic cannot be denied. Its punk aesthetic, dark tone, and subject matter were completely original in 1996. While the film did not thrill critics, it certainly made waves. There is plenty of room to make another film with those same genre-bending characteristics, but The Craft: Legacy is choked by the bonds of its predecessor and not given the breathing room to be original.
While the original movie did not necessarily need a sequel, it seems that The Craft: Legacy is eager to set up for another installment. Blumhouse has its fingers in dozens of pies, so it would not come as a surprise if another sequel gets the green light sometime soon. Perhaps a sequel is where a modern Craft could find its wings, but this iteration stays grounded. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives The Craft: Legacy 2.5 out of 5 stars.