the craft | andrew fleming | peter filardi | robin tunney | fairuza balk | neve campbell | witch | witches | witchcraft | coven | rachel true | skeet ulrich | christine taylor | breckin meyer | nathaniel marston | cliff de young | drama | fantasy | thriller | united states
Film: The Craft
Director: Andrew Fleming
Writer: Peter Filardi and Andrew Fleming
Starring: Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk and Neve Campbell
This was a film I remember when it came out. It hit the movie channels and I saw this one quite a bit growing up with my sister. Back then, a lot of it was that even though these girls were older than me, I could relate with some of the issues they were dealing with and I wasn’t too far off of their ages as well. The synopsis for this film is a newcomer to a Catholic prep high school falls in with a trio of outcast teenage girls who practice witchcraft. They all soon conjure up various spells and curses against those who anger them.
We start this off with Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney) moving to Los Angeles with her father, Cliff De Young, and his wife. Later in the film we learn that Sarah’s real mother passed away during childbirth. She goes to school and we learn that she is a bit of a loner. She tries to befriend the trio of outcasts, but they ignore her.
The trio is actually witches. Bonnie (Neve Campbell) is reading a horoscope, which is telling them they will make a discovery and she thinks it will be their fourth so they can conjure up some stronger spells. Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk) isn’t so sure and Rochelle (Rachel True) is pretty indifferent.
In class Bonnie sees Sarah making a pencil stand on its own and she knows that Sarah must be their fourth. Sarah is also hit on by Chris Hooker (Skeet Ulrich). He warns her about hanging out with the witches. Nancy warns her about how much of a scumbag Chris actually is as well.
Sarah falls in line with the girls and a local woman can tell that she is a natural witch, one that is quite powerful. This seems to bother Nancy who is their de facto leader. The crew has spells they want to make their lives better. Chris spreads a rumor about Sarah, but she wants him to like her. Nancy lives in a trailer with her mother and stepfather. It is a horrible life so she wants money to change her plight. Bonnie has low self-esteem from scars on her back. Rochelle is tormented by another girl, Laura (Christine Taylor).
When their spells work, Nancy decides to do something even more powerful and things really start to get out of hand.
The first thing that I really want to point out about this film is that it feels really 90’s. I guess it is fitting that it came out right in the middle of the decade. It is also interesting that it came out the same year as Scream, with Campbell and Ulrich both starring in that film as well.
Even watching this film 20+ years later, this film actually still holds up. A big aspect of this film is bullying in multiple forms. Sarah is bullied by Chris who makes up a rumor that they had sex. There are stories like this where people have killed themselves on rumors like this. Bonnie is mostly ignored due to her thinking she is ugly ands self-conscious about her scars. Nancy is bullied for being different and Rochelle for being a minority. It is crazy how relevant this aspect of the film is still to this day.
Going from there, I also really like the change in the characters after they gain power. Sarah does stay the same until the climax. Nancy though becomes power hungry. You could call her a tyrant and quite evil. Bonnie with her new found confidence takes it overboard and actually becomes quite mean to everyone. Rochelle is really the only character who stays grounded. She feels horrible about what she wished on Laura. That becomes a bit theme of the film to be careful what you wish for.
This concept of be careful what you wish for is something that we get quite a bit of. Sarah regrets casting the spell that she does on Chris, because he goes too far with it. He is constantly wanting to be with her and not giving her any space. It actually goes to darker things as well. Nancy also realizes that even with all of the money, her life still isn’t what she wants it to be.
One last concept in the film is that I love it is set at a Catholic high school. They don’t really play that up much and we never see any of the nuns or priests scolding the girls, but I think it is an interesting setting for a coven. I definitely feel the film is aware of this and playing on that perversion of religion.
Something that really helps bring this to life is the acting. I think the group of girls is all really good in their own individual ways. Tunney I think really comes off as aloof in the beginning and then really excited to fit in. We see though that she has issues with self-esteem. Not going to lie, I had a big crush on Tunney after this film and still kind of do. Balk is great in her role. She is callous and it just gets worse when she finds power. Campbell is interesting because her character has so much change. It really is night and day. I commend her for that. True shows a lot of heart for this role. She wants Laura punished, but seeing how far it goes actually makes her feel bad. It is fun to see Ulrich, Taylor, Breckin Meyer and Cliff De Young as well in their roles. The rest of the cast does round this out for what was needed.
I think that with all of this, it is paced really well. I never find myself bored and it moves through things at a good rate. Something I really noticed with a critical eye, you start off thinking that the magic isn’t real. It gradually escalates until the climax where things get really out of hand. There’s a good showdown though at the end that really caps off this film in my opinion. I also like how it ends and the implications that come from it. I tend to think a lot of it is an allegory of overcoming your issues and becoming the strong person you always have inside. A big concept with Sarah who has a history of suicide attempts.
I was really curious as to how the effects would hold up in this one, especially in this era where they weren’t always the best. I do have to admit, I was definitely surprised because I think they were good. There are some minor gripes here and there. They don’t go overboard with them, which is good. The ones that are used are pretty subtle and the film could pull them off. Overall though I would say that the effects were really good and help to bring this film to life. It is also shot very well with helps.
To the soundtrack of the film, I would have to say that much like the feel of the movie, this aspect is also very 90’s. I didn’t really care for it as one that I would actually listen to, but it does fit the feel of the film. That is really all you can ask for and it never took me out of my enjoy either.
Now with that said, this is one that I have a lot of nostalgia for and watched a lot growing up. I am surprised to see that it holds up. I think that it has a really good story, one that is really relevant. I like how they ground the witchcraft aspect of it and that it is believable the deeper that these girls get into it. The pacing of the film is good; it builds tension to a satisfying showdown and conclusion. I also think the implications there are solid. The effects were actually really good for the era. The soundtrack does fit, but not one that I’m in love with. I don’t really have any issues with it, just not really my cup of tea when it comes to music. Overall though I’d say this is a good movie and would recommend giving it viewing, especially if you like films about witches.
My Rating: 8 out of 10