This Blumhouse produced sequel to the 1996 witch film The Craft, beloved by goths in their 30s everywhere, is written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones.
Lily (Cailee Spaeny) is moving with her mother Helen (Michelle Monaghan) to live with her new stepfather Adam (David Duchovny) and three stepbrothers in a new town. Although she is completely outnumbered at home, on her first day in her new school she is befriended by a group of girls. Lourdes (Zoey Luna), Frankie (Gideon Adlon), and Tabby (Lovie Simone), who invite her to be the fourth in their coven. They face off against the bullies and bigots that surround them, revelling in their newfound power and bond.
Where The Craft was quite clearly supposed to be a horror film, this is more Mean Girls with magic. Despite one moment where it starts to edge towards some creepiness, the fundamental tone of this is of punches pulled and unmet expectations. The callbacks to the first film are a touch clumsy, outdone by what is possibly a Carrie reference. While it opens suggesting that it is going for a 90s feel with the music, this doesn’t really carry through the remainder of the runtime. There are a lot of parallels in the plot, however, and the spells they cast on a boy, Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine) are not as dangerous as they were in the original. While the changes to him are often played for comedy, he is improved by their interference, becoming their friend rather than another enemy. Although there are hints of a big bad they will have to face towards the end, this fails to really materialise, and the final fight is a foregone conclusion almost before it even starts. It feels as though perhaps a bigger ending was intended but something got in the way. Having the style of an opening for a tv series more than a film, it would have worked well as such.
There are some good elements, Lister-Jones has clearly made a real effort to be inclusive and modern in both the language used and the representation seen in the film. It is boldly liberal, and there are multiple LGBTQ+ cast members, including one of the witches (Zoey Luna is Trans and this is beautifully handled). The spells they cast are mostly without malice, and they are very quick to make mature decisions about how to proceed when things begin to go wrong. The villain is initially well established, as they suggest that they are ultimately fighting the patriarchy and oppression more than it being simply a fight for more power.
The 4 girls are charming and likeable, especially Cailee Spaeny and Gideon Adlon, Spaeny due to her earnest immaturity, and Adlon’s hyperactivity adds some welcome comic relief. Nicholas Galitzine too shows promise as he switches from bullying jock to open-minded friend.
The Craft: Legacy is clearly aimed at modern teens, not fans of the original, and although it didn’t really work for this goth in her 30’s, they’re probably going to love it.
Dir: Zoe-Lister Jones
Scr: Zoe-Lister Jones
Cast: Cailee Spaeny, Zoey Luna, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, David Duchovny
Prd: Jason Blum, Lucy Fisher, Douglas Wick
DoP: Hillary Spera
Music: Heather Christian
Country: USA, Canada
Runtime: 97 mins
The Craft: Legacy is available to download and keep now