The Craft is an American Teen-Drama/Horror/Fantasy film released in 1996 by Columbia Pictures. Written by Andrew Fleming and Peter Filardi and directed Andrew Fleming, The Craft was one of my favorite movies growing up. I mentioned this film briefly when I talked about Neve Campbell and it’s effects on my film tastes. But even over a decade later I’m still learning things about it. Something I didn’t know until recently is that Robin Tunney, who plays Sarah had shaved her head for her previous role in Empire Records, in which she did a fabulous job. So for the course of The Craft she’s wearing a wig and to be honest, I can’t tell. So kudos to the make up department on that one.
The film opens with Sarah Bailey moving to San Franisco from LA with her father to escape her past. On her first day at school she meets Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Bonnie (Neve Campbell) and Rochelle (Racheal True) who is rumored to be witches and a popular boy Chris (Skeet Ulrich), who has a history with groups leader Nancy. The group takes in Sarah and introduce her to magic by taking to a magic shop. After leaving the shop Sarah is accosted by a homeless man and the three girls kill him by accidentally willing his death. Upon the realization of their combined magical abilities the girls delve deep into witchcraft forming a coven and casting spells. After Chris lies about sleeping with Sarah, she casts a love spell on him, Nancy wishes to no longer be white trash causing a life insurance policy to manifest, Bonnie wishes to be beautiful and looses her burn scars and Rochelle casts a vengeance spell on a racist girl at school. But after invoking the spirit of Manon Nancy becomes power mad and the other girls spells start to spiral out of control. Sarah after realizing how far things have gone has to stand against the rest of the girls and try and strip them of their powers.
So this film is far from perfect. It has a myriad of little problems, many of which for me didn’t start to reveal themselves until after I viewed a review of this film by the Nostalgia Chick at That Guy With Glasses. These issues focus on one character in particular and that’s Rochelle. Nostalgia Chick pointed out that the other girls all have a reason to be social outcasts, Sarah is the new girl, Bonnie is scared and timid and Nancy is poor white trash. While Rochelle seems to have a stable home life as it’s never addressed shes part of school sports. Sadly her whole defining attribute is that she’s black. Her whole subplot is focused on racism of a popular girl. That also makes very little sense since racists tend to hide and rationalize that shit.
Much of the magic and Wicca aspects of this film seem hauntingly realistic. This is due in a large to Fairuza Balk, who is or at least was at the time of this film a practicing wicca. She did her best to keep as much of the films magic grounded in real practices as possible. She even pulled in her own contacts for the show when her own knowledge wasn’t enough. I read that the had to stop filming during a number of scenes mostly when the girl invokes the spirit due to strange a creepy phenomenon. If this true or was made up to help the film I don’t know.
I really enjoy the soundtrack with special attention to the song “How soon is now” by The Smiths. I had never heard of the Smiths before this song and it spawned me into being a fan of theirs. But the song was really driven into the ground for me by it becoming the theme song to the tv series Charmed. The rest of the time the pop soundtrack really does set a good tone for the film.
Like I said I’m a big fan of Neve Campbell so it stands to reason that Nancy is my favorite character. But that wouldn’t be true, that honor falls to Fairuza Balks character Nancy. She runs the gambit for slightly damaged to full on mental. I find her facial expressions as she watches her step father die to be great. But it’s the scene where she confronts Chris after he attempts to rape Sarah is by far the best performance in the film.
So final thoughts on The Craft? Well as a product of the time its surprisingly not that dated.Although the films special effects are rather glaring. The film is very tame of its R rating, apparently during production they followed all the rules for a pg-13 rating, but the R was handed down due the film involving teen girls involved with witchcraft. This doesn’t sit well with me since the actresses were in their 20s. So while it doesn’t deliver many scares the film is terribly entertaining. This might be due to the strong nostalgia tied to it, but I strongly recommend this film to others. So for inspiring a generation of faux Wiccans The Craft gets a strong 8/10.