I’m probably an anomaly in that I was a 14-year-old boy who was stoked to see the chick-centric “The Craft” theatrically when it dropped in the spring of 1996. As I was already 6’0” tall and regularly shaving, I had no trouble gaining admittance to the R-rated movie. The question is why did I want to see it? Most of it was likely that I already had the hots for a pre-“Scream” Neve Campbell from having watched “Party of Five” (probably also an odd choice for a 14-year-old boy). I liked but didn’t love the movie (that’s still the case), but I dug enough of what was going on with it that I wound up picking up the flick’s soundtrack on CD. That was commitment in ’96, y’all!
Fast forward 24 years and low-budget horror super-producer Jason Blum brings us a new spin on “The Craft.” Part sequel, part reboot – “The Craft: Legacy,” now available on VOD, focuses on Lily (Cailee Spaeny), a teenager moving from New Jersey to Massachusetts with her mother, Helen (Michelle Monaghan), in order for Mom to pursue a relationship with Adam (David Duchovny). Adam is a self-help guru with three sons – Abe (Julian Grey), Jacob (Charles Vandervaart) and Isaiah (Donald MacLean Jr).
Lily gets off to a rough start at her new school when she’s mocked by Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine), Jacob’s best buddy. A trio of high school witches Lourdes (Zoey Luna), Frankie (Gideon Adlon) and Tabby (Lovie Simone, seen earlier this year in Amazon Prime’s “Selah and the Spades”) notice a Wiccan trinket around Lily’s neck and are especially impressed when she rebuffs Timmy’s bullshit by telepathically chucking his ass against a locker with authority. The girls quickly invite Lily into their flock completing their coven.
Actress-turned-writer/director Zoe Lister-Jones makes her sophomore feature effort with “The Craft: Legacy.” There’s no slump here IMHO. She drew both praise and controversy by hiring an entirely female crew for her directorial debut, 2017’s “Band Aid.” She couldn’t do the same this time out, but many of her “Band Aid” compatriots tackle pivotal roles here – director of photography Hillary Spera, editor Libby Cuenin, production designer Hillary Gurtler and producer Natalia Anderson. (Another interesting tidbit: other credited positions include COVID-19 Supervisor, COVID-19 Officers and COVID-19 Cleaner … how 2020!)
“The Craft: Legacy” seems less concerned with conjuring scares than it does with being woke … and that’s not altogether a bad thing. One of the members of the coven and the actress herself are transgendered. The movie tackles toxic masculinity directly and the girls cast a spell on “Testosterone Timmy” (no joke, this nickname was literally bequeathed upon my brother by some of his high school basketball buddies) turning him into the sensitive sort – he refers to himself as cisgender and speaks of heteronormativity in no time!
The cast generally does a good job. Two of the actresses making up the coven (Spaeny and Adlon) appeared in two of my favorite films of 2018 (“Bad Times at the El Royale” and “Blockers” respectively). Both actresses acquit themselves admirably, but I was especially impressed by the cute-as-a-button Spaeny. This is undoubtedly her movie and the elven-looking actress (seriously, somebody cast her as Zelda!) comes to play.
I’m not entirely sure how this was rated PG-13 what with its inclusion of period blood, female masturbation, descriptions of teenage boys hooking up, etc., but I ultimately think young women should see this as it may entertain them and more importantly empower them. It does get goofily “Power Rangers”-ish in the end, but it also draws ties to its predecessor that could make for an especially interesting third installment.