THROWBACK REVIEW- The Craft: On witchcraft, power and teen movie tropes

Teen movies, especially from the ‘80’s and ’90’s have a special place in my heart and Andrew Fleming’s The Craft is one of my all time favourites. The basic premise sounds pretty cliché and it wouldn’t be completely incorrect to say that a lot of the done to death teen tropes feature quite heavily in it. But it is the occult theme that makes The Craft stand out amongst its peers and gives it a dark edge that is not often seen within this genre.

The film follows new girl in town Sarah (Robin Tunney) as she befriends three fellow students Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Rochelle (Rachel True) and Bonnie (Neve Campbell) who are known around their school as the “bitches of Eastwick”. Having at first been hostile towards Sarah and somewhat living up to their reputation she is soon accepted into the group as their “fourth” after Bonnie witnesses her controlling a pen with her mind. Through a variety of typical high school movie situations such as Sarah having a crush on a jock who then spreads malicious rumours about her – to more serious issues like Rochelle being verbally abused by a racist classmate – the group use witchcraft to get their revenge and it becomes apparent that they have immense power.

The consequence of using their strengthening power is cleverly used to highlight our seemingly innate greed and desire to rule over others, whilst also allowing us to think about our own morals and whether or not they would change or we would stick to them if we were able to wield the power the girls do.

The relationship between Nancy and “Sarah” is the least stable throughout the film, but it is only once things start to get out of hand that it truly fractures. I like the way that Fleming decided to include scenes of Nancy’s home life and the issues she faces as it gives the audience an insight into why she behaves like she does and why she is so desperate to embody Manon’s power. This juxtaposes nicely with Sarah’s relatively pleasant home life, highlighting just how different they are in almost every possible way. Their vast differences are also evident in what they choose to wear, with Nancy being a Goth who favours PVC coats and dark lipstick and Sarah being more comfortable in neutral colours and understated make up. For me, the turbulent relationship between the two is what keeps the plot going and prevents the film from losing pace.

If I had to find a weak point it would probably be the inclusion a 90’s pop-rock cover version of “How Soon Is Now” by The Smiths, rather than using the original – this may just be me being petty though.

Overall, The Craft remains prime viewing during spooky season due to its witchy nature and easily holds its own amongst other teen classics like Clueless, The Breakfast Club and Mean Girls.

by Megan Gibb

Megan is a 20 year old drop out from Cambridge. She is starting her second attempt at university this year and is hoping to avoid disaster this time around. Most of her time is spent either reading or binge-playing video games. Don’t talk to her about End of Watch or Night Flight as she still hasn’t emotionally recovered from them, and probably never will. Her favourite films are Drive, The Handmaiden, Ghost World and Mad Max: Fury Road.


Categories: Reviews

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