October 27th, 2020
MOVIE: THE CRAFT: LEGACY
STARRING: CAILEE SPAENY; MICHELLE MONAGHAN; DAVID DUCHOVNY; LOVIE SIMONE; GIDEON ADLON; ZOEY LUNA
DIRECTED BY: ZOE LISTER-JONES
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
When discussing movies of the 1990’s, there’s a small place in my heart for Andrew Fleming’s 1996 high school witchcraft drama The Craft. It was a unique combination of outcast high school kids, attractive women, using spells and potions to make the world they wanted, along with cool alternative music, and scary powers. It was totally a movie of my time, where I would watch it when it played on HBO. When it was announced that Zoe Lister-Jones would write and direct a new installment of The Craft it sounded right. Especially after the success of her independent gem Band Aid, which proved she could make a movie with passion. Sadly, it does not seem that passion is transferring over to her first big budget production and what is a sequel in The Craft: Legacy. It’s not even that this new addition to the story of high school witches isn’t intriguing, it honestly just feels mangled by a production company that had no clue what to do with this narrative. There are new spells and incantations, a new quartet of witches, and an intriguing narrative about female empowerment, and yet all of that falls apart in what feels like an attempt to make The Craft a new group of superheroes. This witches brew is a bit flat.
Unlike the first Craft story, this isn’t about learning that becoming a witch was possible. For Tabby (Lovie Simone), Frankie (Gideon Adlon), and Lourdes (Zoey Luna) they are looking for their fourth member or as they call it the completion to the powers of North-South-East-and-West. That’s where Lily (Cailee Spaney) comes in, moving into town with her mother Helen (Michelle Monaghan), who decided to live with her boyfriend Adam (David Duchovny), and his three teenage boys.
Instantly, Lily feels out of place, propelled by an embarrassing moment in school where her period bleeds through her pants, but her new friends come to her support. It is then where the bond is made and together the four of them can conjure up the powers of earth, wind, fire, and ice. A major difference is that these four use their powers for more good than vengeance on their enemies, but it helps to play a few tricks on a bully like Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine), whose twist is more complex than just getting back at the bad boy.
The problems that lie with The Craft: Legacy is that a majority of it feels incomplete. Scenes are cut short, lacking in details, and the three women outside of Lily barely get a minute to develop their characters. The script by Lister-Jones is often daring, taking risks to tell a narrative that is about the high school experience of a teenage girl, especially those that feel different, and are surrounded by the world of toxic masculinity. There’s an interesting nugget of themes about how Duchovony’s character treats his three boys with an abusive and emasculating approach, whereas Monaghan’s character is the nurturing mother, willing to go to bat for her daughter. The path is right, but along the line it just never works, even with a breakthrough performance from Spaney who rocks her role. Unfortunately, the pieces just don’t always match. As their powers grow the witches become more like Power Rangers, making it hard to say this is even a movie for Halloween time.
I finished The Craft: Legacy not entirely disappointed but more upset that a great talent such as Zoe Lister-Jones can have her material and vision given the maligned studio treatment. If there is something to be interested in, it’s that Lister-Jones and her production crew had the courage to stick to their process. The movie I was wishing this was more similar to is Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock whipping it up in Practical Magic, but that film seemed to have more courage to go all the way in embracing the witch connections. This might not be the final result Lister-Jones wanted, which makes me wonder if there is a different cut of this film, including one that isn’t afraid to let these characters flourish in their confidence. A new age, subverted, feminism tale is the right way to take on the story of these witches. It just won’t work when every scene feels like something was missing. Next time just mix the right potions.
THE CRAFT: LEGACY IS AVAILABLE ON DEMAND THIS WEEKEND FROM SONY PICTURES.
Written by: Leo Brady