10.11.2010

The Craft (1996): When California teens dabble in witchcraft


Not nearly as frightening as the sensationalism surrounding election season, The Craft brings us the dark world of the occult as seen through the eyes of a thirteen year old. Jammed with young 90's stars and an alternative rock soundtrack, this movie is nothing more than a  time capsule for the modern audience.
Going to a wealthy private school in Southern California is soooo hard.

With Robin Tunney, Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Breckin Meyer, Christine Taylor,  and the stereotypical goth chick--Fairuza Balk, The Craft plays like a 1996 yearbook. The setup is equally as dated: three wannabe witches convert the new girl into their coven so they can wreak havoc on fellow high schoolers who wrong them.  So it sounds like Heathers, but with a 90's goth twist, right? Unfortunately, The Craft doesn't believe in satire. Nor does it have the nerve to blatantly execute jocks in the middle of the woods. If only...

If only The Craft took some risks, it might have actually been good. Instead, we see the girls using "glamour" to change their hair color (and with laughable special efx), removing scars, and casting love spells for half of the runtime. Where is all the revenge stuff? Where is the dark humor? The Craft's all-holds-barred attitude shows that this was marketed towards young girls just entering high school, because an older audience can't possibly get much from this. The R-rating on the film is especially surprising, as there is hardly any violence.
Find the one that doesn't belong.

This isn't to say that there are no good moments in The Craft. There are. Skeet Ulrich's performance under Tunney's love spell had me chuckling. The "light as a feather, stiff as a board" game actually looked good. And after conjuring up a spirit by the ocean, Balk rejoices over the site of several dead sharks washed ashore, which was probably the most effective scene in the whole film.

With another draft of a script and some more attitude, The Craft could have been good. The cast was capable of taking this film up a notch if the story allowed them to. However, the characters have forced motivations and the premise falls apart with unnecessary story twists. Oh well. Better luck next time if this film is ever remade. Ha.

8 comments:

  1. I thought this movie was the coolest thing EVER, when I was about 16 and it came out....
    Looking back, it was sort of hokey.

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  2. They are remaking it with the truthful title of the Crap.

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  3. Andrew, I was 9 when this movie came out and by the time I was 13, all the girls had seen it. I never got around to it, but it probably would have made much more of an impression on me if I saw it then.

    Nick, No kidding.

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  4. Hmm. I always end up watching this film every once in a blue moon and for me it still holds up rather fine.

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  5. WHAT?! I love THE CRAFT. It's a guilty pleasure movie for me. Sure it could have been much more than what it was, but as it is I think it's a lot of fun. Oh well! I'm sure it will be remade within the next five years anyway, so hopefully it will work for you the next time around. :)

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  6. I saw this movie recently, and it really gave me a feeling for the 90's. Obviously a movie only teenagers would love.

    But I must give The Craft a hats off for their accuracy on modern witchcraft. I have never seen a movie that came so close to the real practice of witchcraft, with how the rituals were performed and the girl's connection to nature was portrayed. Very realistic.

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  7. Aaron, I probably would have a soft spot for it if I had actually seen it during the 90's. It's not a bad movie or anything, but I think it could have been more fun with a bit more meanness.

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  8. I remember watching this one during the 90s, it was considered a "cool" movie in deed, havent watched it in a long ass time, probably since the 90's so I dont really know how it would hold up today.

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