The Craft (1996)

The Craft
Director: Andrew Fleming
Writer: Peter Filardi, Andrew Fleming
Cast: Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True, Skeet Ulrich, Christine Taylor, Breckin Meyer, Nathaniel Marston, Cliff De Young, Assumpta Serna
Seen on: 10.7.2021

Content Note: ableism, (critical treatment of) racism

Sarah (Robin Tunney) and her family just moved to a new town, and her first day at her new Catholic private school is an anxious thing. It seems to be going well, when football star Chris (Skeet Ulrich) flirts with her in her lunch break. But at the same time, she also catches the eye of Bonnie (Neve Campbell), Nancy (Fairuza Balk), and Rochelle (Rachel True) who practice witchcraft and are sure that Sarah is the fourth that they have been missing to cast the really powerful spells. At least, Bonnie is sure about it, while Nancy is more doubtful. Nevertheless, they approach Sarah – a decision that changes all of their lives.

The Craft is far from a good film, but it has garnered a bit of a cult following, which made me want to see it anyway. I’m not sure if I get the cult, but there is something about The Craft for sure.

The film poster showing Bonnie (Neve Campbell), Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Sarah (Robin Tunney) and Rochelle (Rachel True) walking through a thunderstorm with a lot of lightning.

It’s not always easy to get into cult films when you didn’t see them when you were young yourself, and I think that’s the case for me with The Craft. I mean, I can see its appeal, especially for girls. We get four girls here who discover their power and use it for themselves, not heeding what anybody else may say or think about it. And we get to see four girls, each marginalized in her own way, becoming fast friends and finding said power in their friendship with each other.

That’s all well and good, but unfortunately, the film isn’t interested in actually empowering girls to use their power, and so shit hits the fan, friendships break, girls get punished for not knowing when to stop or how to be good. If the ending had been less conservative, I would have loved the film, I’m sure. But with the (ableist) way things turn out, I just couldn’t.

Bonnie (Neve Campbell), Nancy (Fairuza Balk) and Rochelle (Rachel True) keeping Sarah under observation.

Although there were certainly things that I could go along with. The costumes are amazingly trashy, even for the 90s. The performances of the central foursome are really good, and as long as they are happy with each other and excited about their powers, it was so easy to go along with everything, even if the film doesn’t always make sense. And that happens quite often because the plot doesn’t actually develop so much as appear and disappear at certain points.

In the end, though, there is a power in The Craft. One that could have been better used, one that could have been stronger, but even in this slightly mangled form, it’s still there. I think the secret is in the really excellent performances of the Balk, Tunney, True and Campbell. Their characters’ friendship pulls you into the film. It’s just too bad that they couldn’t have remained friends.

Bonnie (Neve Campbell), Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Sarah (Robin Tunney) and Rochelle (Rachel True) getting ready to board a bus.

Summarizing: don’t expect too much, but it is a fun enough watch.

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