‘The Craft: Legacy’ Transforms the Spirit of the Original in a Brand New Story

A still from 'The Craft; Legacy'. Tabby (Lovie Simone), Frankie (Gideon Adlon), Lily (Cailee Spaeny) and Lourdes (Zoey Luna) are lined up together taking a polaroid of themselves. They are teenage girls all of different ethnicities and are dressed up in fancy clothing and bejewelled makeup for their photo session. They are stood in what is clearly one of the girls' bedrooms.
Sony Pictures Releasing

Not  as charming or fun as the first film, The Craft: Legacy still manages to fit in moments that are enjoyable and entertaining. The new quartet of young witches is more rounded and real than their predecessors — and where the original was mostly a pulpy, witchy romp, this version has plenty to say. The result is, somehow, simultaneously satisfying and unsatisfying. Which is a pretty rare trick, all things considered.

We are introduced to the protagonist Lily (Cailee Spaeny), a smart yet socially awkward teen. Her mother (Michelle Monaghan) is moving in with a new flame, Adam (David Duchovny), an alpha-type with a trio of troubled sons. After Lily endures an embarrassing moment on her first day of school, a trio of devout Wiccans (Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone and Zoey Luna) befriend her; when Lily accidentally tosses the school bully into a locker with some Carrie style telekinesis, the gang invites her to join their coven.

All these issues don’t really comprise a plot with conflict and structure; more accurately, they’re just a series of events that occur. Director/writer Zoe Lister-Jones does a fine job establishing the world of her characters and making each young witch interesting and genuine; what she doesn’t seem interested in is fleshing out a proper story. Things happen: mysterious details about Lily’s new stepfather emerge, a spell cast on a classmate has unexpected results — but these never truly produce a clear understanding of what this particular film is about. I noted the time at 58 minutes when it finally became clear who the antagonist was.

A still from 'The Craft: Legacy'. Lourdes (Zoey Luna), Frankie (Gideon Adlon), Tabby (Lovie Simone) and Lily (Cailee Spaeny) are all sat on a shag rug around a low table covered with a floral tablecloth. Their hands are all in the centre of the table touching a Ouija board.
Sony Pictures Releasing

For a film with such heavy feminist tones, it is refreshing to see that Lister-Jones included Zoey Luna as part of the coven because we cannot be talking about the power of women and not include the voices of Trans women. Although the film attempts inclusion there is still a lack of inclusivity in which the film puts her into this ‘womxn’ category. This term is signalling that the film sees her as something other than a ‘woman’ which grows as quite the opposite to their goal of being open and inclusive. The film had so much potential to explore Zoey Luna’s character but failed to give her this platform, and focused more on the other members of the coven. Trans representation on screen is something that needs to be prioritised.  The film does deal with a character’s bisexuality in a touching way that isn’t often seen in mainstream films. With Lily, we watch as she makes a grave mistake which sets into motion an event with tragic consequences – a brief moment where she didn’t believe that the opinion of the rest of her coven was needed. Because of that, she finds herself working to earn that trust and forgiveness back once again. All that being said, this film really shines in its powerful message of acceptance, inclusion, and community. In helping one another and learning from our mistakes so that we can grow to be better humans.

These factors including a key reveal in the film’s final shot certainly point to The Craft having been pitched as a series of films. More accurately, though, this feels like slick and polished television series. If what I had seen were indeed the opening few episodes of a Netflix series, it would be great; as a standalone film, it’s more than a bit limp. Even with franchise ambitions still a common affliction it remains necessary to make individual movies stand on their own merits.

The Craft: Legacy is available on VOD now

by Lucie Wright

Lucie is a computer science graduate and film journalist with a specialism in horror and the very strange. She can talk about Japanese horror and her favourite final girls for hours. She is probably rambling about The Evil Dead on Twitter @theevilwright

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