Director: Andrew Fleming
Writers: Peter Filardi and Andrew Fleming
Starring: Fairuza Balk, Robin Tuney, Neve Campbell, Rachel True and Skeet Ulrich
The Craft received mixed reviews when it was originally released in 1996. In the years since then it has gained a cult following and has been praised for being a standout film from other teen films of the era. Its inspiration on classic TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed is undeniable. Without The Craft neither of those would exist in the same way.
There are some dark subjects in the film, that separates it from other teen films of the time. It deals with body shaming, racism, and sexism in a powerful way. The four main characters are bullied consistently at school by a group of some of the vilest teenagers imaginable. Chris (Skeet Ulrich, Scream) makes up stories about Sarah having slept with him (Robin Tunney, The Mentalist) and doesn’t show any remorse. The rest of his friends mock her for look like she’s going to cry. Laura (Christine Taylor, Zoolander) is opening racist to Rochelle (Rachel True, Half Baked).
Nancy (Fairuza Balk, Almost Famous) and Bonnie (Neve Campbell, Scream) join Rochelle and Sarah as the four main characters. They are outcast teenagers who turn to witchcraft to get revenge on the bullies in their lives. It’s not just school life that is Nancy is dealing with an abusive homelife and Bonnie has burns all over her body that have made her feel like a monster. The plan goes too well, and things start to turn into a nightmare.
The characters are all great and the performances are excellent. It all feels natural, especially the four leads. There isn’t a weak link to be seen. The bullies are also great, and you enjoy seeing them suffer when the tables start to turn. The later half of the film does feel a little over the top when everything starts to go wrong. The story has been played out before and is overdone. The second half is pretty much all about karma.
For the time the effects are excellent, and they still look great today. There’s shapeshifting, people flying and a fight sequence in the later part of the film that has objects flying about all over the place. They have obviously aged over time. The way magic and witchcraft are presented also feels grounded there was a wiccan on set to supervise to ensure that the presentation was accurate and respectful, and it makes the film that much better.
It wouldn’t be a teen high school film without a loud soundtrack to accompany it and The Craft has a loud soundtrack. There’s nothing spectacular on it, but there’s a solid 90s alt rock sound that feels right at home with the era. It starts with a cover of The Beatles song ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ by Our Lady Peace. It’s a grungy cover and sets the tone for the rest of the music, a lot of grunge and 90s rock. It’s not the best soundtrack but it does the job.
The Craft is a good high school film. The performances are excellent, the effects are great, and the story is entertaining, if a little cliched. It has an enduring legacy inspiring a whole bunch of TV shows and films. It’s entertaining and fun, while dealing with dark subjects.