Film review: The Craft (1996), directed by Andrew Fleming
Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney) is the new girl in town. On the first day in school she meets a cute boy called Chris (Skeet Ulrich) who warns her about a clique he calls the “bitches of Eastwick” and says they’re witches. Understandably, Sarah reacts with an unimpressed “O RLY”. Meanwhile, one of these girls, Bonnie (Neve Campbell), has noticed Sarah and tries to convince Nancy (Fairuza Balk) and Rochelle (Rachel True) to let Sarah join their little coven. To be four would be great – they can finally invoke the four directions/elements properly!
Said and done. Together, the girls realise that they can do Really Powerful Things and set forces in motion that they really shouldn’t have. After all, everything you do comes back threefold … Sarah wanted for Chris to like her – he becomes really obsessed instead, and so on. His friends (Breckin Meyer is one of them) thinks he’s lost it – which he of course has.
The interesting thing about this film is that they’ve obviously had a real neo-Pagan advisor on this film, at least for some parts. They invoke the elements/directions like you would and the “law of three” is also a neo-Pagan thing. As for the rest … yeah, well, let’s face it, it’s a horror film. If they had done it the way it would be in real life, it wouldn’t make a particularly nail-biting movie. Not that this one is either, but you know, it’s trying to be. When Sarah says that she tried making it rain and a pipe would burst, yup, that’s the sort of thing that could potentially happen!
The rest of the stuff? Less so. From being semi-interesting about four girls who play with powers you can realise from the get-go are going to be a very bad idea, it turns into a generic mid-90s teen horror flick. As films go, it’s predictable: hanging out with the wrong crowd, the bad girls … not like you can’t see how that’s going to end, or who is going to let the power go to her head the most.
Still, I was actually quite entertained. There aren’t a lot of good movies about witchcraft out there, and this doesn’t count because it’s not very good and the witchcraft it portrays is of the Hollywood kind more than the neo-Pagan kind, but you know … At least they got bits of it right. And they even used the song that was the Charmed theme tune. Now there was a series about witches that had even less to do with reality, but I had really got into it by the final series.
If you’re into mid-90s teen horror flicks, there are worse than this. The acting isn’t exactly inspired, nor is anything about it, but at least they call on the elements properly. Don’t get me started on the knife thing – when you draw a Circle, you’re already inside it and don’t have to step inside!
2 out of 5 beached sea animals.