Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Craft (1996)

The Craft is a lot of fun. In fact, for a horror movie aimed at teenaged girls it's probably more fun than many people expected it to be. I used to love it. Rewatching it nowadays, however, reminds me of just how light and fluffy it all is. There are dark moments, undeniably, but a lot of the movie plays out like an extended episode of My First Coven (or My Little Crony, if you will). I still enjoy it, and it's so much better than any post-millennial horror movies aimed at teenage girls that I can think of, but it has, pardon the pun, lost some of its charm.

Robin Tunney plays Sarah, the new girl in town, a girl who eventually finds acceptance from a trio comprised of Neve Campbell, Rachel True and their nominal leader, Fairuza Balk. It turns out that the three girls have been just waiting for a fourth. They dabble in witchcraft, you see, and with the right fourth person they could really tap into some strong stuff. Or so they hope. As it turns out, they're correct. What starts off as a bit of fun - revenge against a bully, a love spell - soon turns darker and more dangerous. Sarah decides that enough is enough, but the other three girls have other ideas. If Sarah isn't with them . . . . . . . . . then she's against them.

Mixing in some witchcraft with standard teen fare, The Craft has one major plus point going for it, two if you count the decent, for the time, special effects, and that's the cast. Robin Tunney is actually the weakest member of the cast, but does okay in the main role. The second weakest member of the cast is Neve Campbell, unconvincing as a young woman who has spent so many years dealing with some major scar tissue all over her body before finding a way to look beautiful and feel confident. Rachel True is quite good, always convincing as someone genuinely conflicted by the power being used by the group, and both Christine Taylor and Skeet Ulrich are enjoyable as two very different kinds of assholes. Breckin Meyer is fun to watch, but he's only in a couple of scenes and only doing the schtick that he's done in almost every other movie that he's starred in. Then there's Fairuza Balk. Balk is fantastic throughout, it's hard to take your eyes off her. She's one of the most interesting, and fun, villains to be found in any horror movie from the '90s. You just know that her background isn't a warm and happy one, a lot of her behaviour is made up of standard defence mechanisms, but she still has good intentions even when things start turning bad.

Director Andrew Fleming doesn't take any risks, but he does just fine with the pacing of the movie and the various set-pieces. The runtime is approximately 100 minutes, the story is set up very quickly and there aren't too many moments that feel as if they're just padding. Mind you, this may be due more to the fact that Peter Filardi wrote a relatively fat-free script sprinkled with some good one-liners.

It may go without saying, but fans of Charmed will want to check this one out. And fans of teen movies that are given a hint of darkness. Oh, and fans of Fairuza Balk.



  1. Fairuza Balk walks away with the acting honors in this one. The longer the movie runs, the crazier and crazier she gets until by the end she's totally barking batshit insane. It's some performance. And Rachel True must be drinking the same stuff Helen Mirren and Danielle Harris drinks. At the time she made this movie she was in her early 30's and played a high school student quite convincingly as far as looks go.