A cult hit gets an emotionally bewitching sequel.
“The Craft” from 1996 was a teen supernatural horror film that became cult hit over the years. The original stared Robin Tunney as a San Francisco girl who moves to Los Angeles, and discovers she has witch powers; and Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True played the other young witches, who make her the 4th one in their coven. They also take advantage of their powers for their own benefits like True making the bully Christine Taylor lose her hair or Tunney putting a love spell on Skeet Ulrich. I liked that movie for expressing modern-day teens and their cults and spirits, and for the excellent performances from the leading ladies.
Now 24 years later, we have the stand-alone sequel “The Craft: Legacy,” which offers the same qualities of the original, and provides more magic and sincere moments. This one is more about the responsibilities and choices of young witches, and what can happen if they turn to witchcraft to make their lives better.
Last week, I had to deal with Robert Zemeckis’ vision of “The Witches,” and I was easily aggravated at how he made the witches frightening for young children and degrading for adults. Those witches had no purpose, other than the murder innocent children. These witches in “The Craft: Legacy” have purposes, and the modern world allows them to adapt to their surroundings.
The movie begins with the teenager Lily Downs (Cailee Spaeny) and her mom (Michelle Monaghan) moving in with her boyfriend (David Duchovny) and his three boys. Her first days at her new school starts off humiliating when she has her period in class, but it starts to get better when three witches-Frankie (Gideon Adlon), Tabby (Lovie Simone from “Selah and the Spades”), and Lourdes (Zoey Luna)-all discover that she has powers. They make her the fourth witch in their coven.
They start using their powers by turning the school bully Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine) into a sensitive guy. This is when we see some sincerely touching moments. They involve his deceased mother, and when tearfully admits he hooked up with one of Lily’s soon-to-be stepbrothers Isaiah (Donald MacLean, Jr.). But it has to end when he takes his own life, and the girls are devastated.
And more emotional moments begin when Lily find out the truth about herself. No spoilers, I promise, but it does test your senses.
“The Craft: Legacy” was written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones and produced by Jason Blum; and both of them have developed a sequel that breaks tradition from the first movie and thrives in the new generation. It has amazing special effects for the witchcraft, but it’s never overdone or cheesy. It also has fine performances from the cast, who are never self-congratulatory. Among them, I really liked Spaeny for her ability to ease into her emotions, Galitzine for providing the heart when his character is in the good mode, and Duchovny for portraying the girl’s strict soon-to-be-step-father with a purpose.
We can pretty much tell what’s to come, given the fact that we’ve seen the original, but we’re also able to see elements we never would have guessed in this world. It has the ability to show you its true colors, and allows these young witches to be more than the first movie depicted them. I know you’re probably gonna comment saying: “I disliked this sequel” or “I thought the first movie was better” or “I didn’t care for the first one anyway,” depending on your beliefs. But I’m also entitled to my own opinion by saying that this sequel is better than the first, and I liked that one.
Streaming on various services.