The Craft (1996)
The Craft is my perfect movie in so many ways. A bunch of sassy teenagers who use witchcraft to mess with people who do them dirty!? Yes please! The film turns 20 years old today, so we’re reviewing it in honor of its continuing cult status after all these years.
Andrew Fleming’s The Craft was ahead of its time- the main cast is all women, and they’re likable, fun and beautiful but in unconventional ways; there are real issues that are addressed, such as suicide, abuse, date rape and racism; and the women are powerful, and in complete control of their own destiny. It’s no surprise that the film resonated with so many people, whether you were a big horror buff or not.
Sarah (Robin Tunney), the new girl in town and to her prep school, is still dealing with the death of her mother. It isn’t long before a group of outcasts who practice witchcraft for fun, led by Nancy (Fairuza Balk, the perfect person to play a witch; she was even a practicing Wiccan during filming) take notice that Sarah’s got intense witchcraft powers of her own.
Neve Campbell is great as Bonnie (which probably led to her role in Scream), who deals with severe insecurity and self-esteem issues due to burns all over her body, who eventually comes into her own- not just because her scars heal, but because it’s partly her own abilities that help remove them. Rochelle (Rachel True) is the sole black person in the film, and we unfortunately don’t get much back story on her besides that she’s picked on quite often by Laura (Christine Taylor, who plays the perfect bitch). Laura is the mean girl in high school, and you can’t help but want something bad to happen to her as she incessantly bullies Rochelle. But when Rochelle casts a spell on her and she loses her hair, you can tell that she’s not as happy with the roles being reversed as she thought she’d be, much like how Sarah’s love spell on Billy (Skeet Ulrich, another Scream alum) backfires.
The witches test their limits, mimicking what all teenagers do, but on a larger scale. They can’t help but touch the hot stove once they’ve discovered that their powers are greater with a fourth, and unfortunately Nancy becomes a little drunk with her power. It starts off positive, with her killing her abusive step-dad and collecting insurance money with her mom to get them out of poverty and into a nice apartment. Once she realizes how powerful she is, though, she starts to go a little nuts with it, becoming obsessed with gaining more power than Sarah, who has the greatest power of all four of them.
Nancy’s powers begin to become more about revenge than having fun, and it is ultimately her undoing after she attempts to torture Sarah into killing herself. (Those snakes and maggots were real!!) Through trust in herself and her power, Sarah is able to persevere through the darkest of times, with good and pure intentions overcoming the bad.
With iconic and revolutionary scenes, such as Sarah changing her hair color and Rochelle floating while playing Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, and a coming-of-age storyline with a theme of female empowerment, The Craft is about as good as it gets. It’s quintessential 90s without being corny, and when you watch it, it doesn’t seem dated, because it’s still relevant today. And damn, do I wish I could dress like that every day. Being different is cool, and The Craft proved it.
We ARE the weirdos, mister.