Review: 'The Craft: Legacy' plays with nostalgia, struggles with identity

(l-r) Lourdes (Zoey Luna) Frankie (Gideon Adlon) Tabby (Lovie Simone) and Lily (Cailee Spaeny) perform rituals and talk about being cautious with their gifts in Columbia Pictures' THE CRAFT: LEGACY. (Photo: Sony Pictures){ }

The Craft: Legacy
3 out of 5 Stars
Zoe Lister-Jones
Writer: Zoe Lister-Jones, Peter Filardi (based on characters created by)
Starring: Cailee Spaeny, Zoey Luna, Gideon Adlon
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements, crude and sexual content, language and brief drug

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Synopsis: Three teens are quick to befriend the new girl in school believing that she might be the perfect candidate to complete their witch coven.

Review: I have a vague notion of 1996. I was 20 years old, derailed and trying to find some footing. I wore a bit of velvet, occasionally lined my eyes and communed with spooky people. I wasn’t into witchcraft or paganism, but I was aware of it. I think I saw Inkubus Sukkubus open for Rosetta Stone (who had a top 40 hit in the UK with their cover of “The Witch”) at London’s Astoria.

Not that you needed to know anything about magic (or magick) to understand “The Craft.” It’s a film about a group of outcasts who attempt to use witchcraft to deal with their teenage problems. It was darker, bleaker than its contemporaries. The 90s answer to “The Lost Boys.” A lot of style, a touch of substance. I liked it enough to cut out a picture of Fairuza Balk from an interview she did at the time and taped it to the back side of my closet door.

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“The Craft: Legacy” is similar in that it sees three high school friends, Lourdes (Zoey Luna), Frankie (Gideon Adlon), and Tabby (Lovie Simone), dabbling in witchcraft with mixed results. They need a fourth member to perform more complex spells. It just so happens that Lily (Cailee Spaeny) and her mother, Helen (Michelle Monaghan), are moving in with Helen’s new boyfriend Adam (David Duchovny) and his three sons. Following the worst first day in the history of first days, Lily is befriended by Lourdes, Frankie and Tabby.

The movie, however, isn’t really about the four girls. It is about Lily and the unusual family dynamics that she and her mother are dropped into. That offers some interesting possibilities. Particularly as it makes Lily an outsider in almost every aspect of her life. “The Craft” was built upon the fiction between the four girls. There was a sense of melodrama to it. For all its darkness, I don’t think it ever really took itself too seriously. Writer/director Zoe Lister-Jones’s screenplay is occasionally playful, but it handles its darker sections in such a dour way that the ridiculous third act feels completely out of place. A more serious final act or a less serious middle section would have made for a more enjoyable experience.

"The Craft: Legacy" has been an incredibly difficult film for me to review because it feels like there are two substantially different films fighting for the spotlight. You have a more serious meditation on isolation and loneliness or you have something more campy and supernatural. There's a good chance I would have enjoyed either of those films. Smashed together in one narrative it just doesn't work for me. It's not a bad film, it's just uneven and unfocused. There's some nostalgia, but not enough to blindly recommend to fans of the original.

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