If you want a film that manages to catch a microcosm of the 90s, The Craft is a pretty good place to look. It is a very well-made 90s teen thriller, that manages to pull together a very 90s soundtrack with some familiar 90s stars. There are also some very cool moments and clever sequences which just about keep the movie from edging into the “too silly” category.
That is quite an achievement considering it is a movie about teen witches. This isn’t the camp and silly of Hocus Pocus though but instead played much more “real.” What helps this work is some convincing, if slightly stereotypical characters. Although fairly recognisable in any teen high-school set movie, Fairuza Balk plays the bitchy leader of the “coven,” while Neve Campbell plays the shy, scarred girl who needs a build in confidence. The original trio of the coven is rounded off with a bullied Rachel True before Robin Tunney enters as the new girl and the film’s lead. Its through her eyes that we see the witch and magic aspect of the story unfold and this is done well.
The dark magic and coven aspects are rolled out slowly, taking their time and making it feel grounded considering how fantastical the idea is. It also helps build the friendship between the girls. When the spells do begin to develop, the slow build and character driven ideas work well, bringing some distinctive and very unique moments.
Its not difficult to see where the film’s plot is heading but it unfolds to this point naturally and convincingly. You never feel like you are entering “superhero” territory, with witches fighting each other in the skies or anything too dramatic and instead you get a decent, taut finale which satisfies.
One of the movie’s biggest strengths is also one of its biggest weaknesses as it is so steeped in the 90s and the looks, music and culture of that decade that the film can feel slightly dated at times. It also fails to really live up to the central idea as much as it could have. It grounds itself and offers a great sense of realism but at times you wish it would deliver more on the prospect of “modern teenage witches.”
Overall, The Craft is a very well-made, 90s teen thriller with a great cast. The characters are written well and the plot develops logically, although is slightly predictable. The finale delivers, though but you can’t help feeling there could be more magic in a movie about witches.
Rating – 4
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