Cast your mind back to 1996 and you will recall the release of The Craft – a supernatural horror movie about four teenagers who dabble in witchcraft. The movie was released the same year as Scream, and along with a number of other films in the late ‘90s created some buzz in the horror genre.
Fast-forward 24 years and with ‘90s nostalgia still in the air, Sony Pictures and Blumhouse have decided to revive The Craft via a sort-of sequel/soft reboot called The Craft: Legacy. The movie was released in select cinemas in late October, as well as through video on demand (VOD), so if you can’t get to a cinema due to COVID restrictions in your area, then you can rent The Craft: Legacy through the usual channels (Amazon, iTunes, etc).
Directed by Zoe Lister-Jones, The Craft: Legacy follows a new group of teens as they learn the dos and don’ts of witchcraft. Along the way they develop their skills, deal with a few issues facing high school students, tackle some toxic masculinity, and square off against a big bad.
Although this is a sequel to its 1996 counterpart, it is largely a sequel in name alone. With the exception of a couple of call backs to the original, this is a very much a standalone tale, with a new cast that includes Cailee Spaeny, Michelle Monaghan, and David Duchovny.
Yes, David Duchovny is in this movie – and in quite a significant role. It is kind of fitting, because at times this movie did feel a little bit like an episode of The X-Files.
Now here is where I say something which will be slightly controversial. While I like The Craft, and I really do so please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t believe it to be one of the greatest horror movies of all-time. I appreciate it has a legion of fans, I enjoyed it back in ’96, but I’ve never viewed it as a defining moment in cinema.
My opinion is The Craft was a perfectly fine ‘90s movie, which understood its audience very well (i.e. the teen crowd), and arrived just at the right point in time when the likes of Scream, Buffy, Charmed etc were becoming popular. My opinion of The Craft: Legacy is more or less the same – this is a perfectly fine movie, and I believe it too understands its audience, but it won’t ever win any awards.
At no point does the film push any boundaries, and there’s nothing particularly mind-blowing in the script, but the cast work well, the soundtrack is great, and most important of all, it doesn’t crap all over the original. Director Zoe Lister-Jones has produced a sequel that is respectful to what has come before, and at the same time is appealing to the next generation.
All through the movie I kept saying to myself, ‘I could see teenagers enjoying this’, because it had relatable/identifiable characters, it highlighted some topical issues, and it wasn’t scary. In fact, this is horror-lite, so it really is perfect for teens who are looking for something to watch maybe during a sleepover (COVID restrictions notwithstanding), and don’t want anything that is too intense.
Does it work for general horror buffs? Well, I guess that all depends on what kind of horror you favour. If your idea of a good horror movie is gorno, then no, The Craft: Legacy will leave you cold. However, if you like something that is merely a little spooky then this is perfect.
What I would say is that with a little bit of tweaking, The Craft: Legacy could have been an even stronger movie. I believe it begins to deal with some interesting ideas, particularly those connected to David Duchovny’s character, and I really wanted to see them developed further, but alas the film mostly skirted around the edges and this is ultimately a shame.
But I am not going to dwell on anything too negative about this movie, as I did enjoy it. The Craft: Legacy is fine for those who liked the original, it will connect better with new teen audiences, and for anyone else it isn’t going to cause any offence.