Review: With a Few Stumbles, 'The Craft: Legacy' is Still Quite Magical
by Zofia Wijaszka
October 28, 2020
For as long as I can remember, I have always been very interested in witches – especially on screen. I used to watch "Sabrina the Teenage Witch", "Charmed", and many other shows. Hence, it's no surprise that when I discovered The Craft, I immediately became obsessed. The film from 1996, directed by Andrew Fleming, is, without a doubt, a Halloween must-watch. Which is why I was incredibly happy to hear that Zoe Lister-Jones wrote and directed a follow-up to the events that transpired in the first movie. Directing her second feature, The Craft: Legacy, Zoe Lister-Jones showcases magic, sisterhood, toxic masculinity, and more.
Lily (Cailee Spaeny) isn't entirely happy about her current situation. When her mother, Helen (Michelle Monaghan), falls in love, they both end up moving in with Adam (David Duchovny) and his three sons (Julian Gabe, Donald MacLean Jr., Charles Vandervaart). Lily is a lonely soul yet a very creative young woman and a talented aspiring photographer. After an uneventful accident on her first day at a new school, three students come to the rescue: Frankie (Gideon Adlon), Tabby (Lovie Simone), and Lourdes (Zoey Luna). As the four girls grow closer together, Lily discoverers that the three girls are witches, but that's not all. She also possesses secret powers that suddenly activate when her emotions are involved.
This group of young women continue to learn and practice their new powers while coping with high school life and bullies – particularly Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine). But as their magic powers grow stronger, the charismatic and outspoken foursome realizes the true price of magic and discover that dangers that lurk at every turn. The Craft: Legacy starts subtly and, at times, drags. It takes its time to showcase Lily's struggles at adapting and also the strong bond she has with her mother. Helen and Lily are a refreshing portrayal of a mother-daughter relationship where one doesn't hate another. It's a very interesting display, especially when it's often the opposite – teenage daughters usually don't have a great relationship with their mother, leading to constant fights. But thankfully this isn't a case in The Craft: Legacy.
Even though magic certainly plays an important part in this new installment, it's the need for community and sisterhood that is truly extraordinary. That sense of the community is the focus of the film, and Lister-Jones is quite outspoken about it. Clearly she wanted to offer audiences a new story that applies to contemporary young adults, especially the next generations of young women. At the same time, she wanted to pay tribute to the original and it certainly worked out. As a big fan of the original film from 1996, Legacy is a great contemporary manifesto on the struggles that adolescents face every day.
There is one significant element of The Craft: Legacy that, ultimately, makes the film a worthy watch. Lister-Jones doesn't divide the women and doesn't pit them against each other. Instead, she shows them as intelligent individuals who learn from their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions. Although fights do occur, the group still comes together when they encounter danger. At the same time, the film touches upon topics of femininity, bisexuality, and toxic masculinity. In the latter case, Lister-Jones highlights the dangers of toxic masculinity and its damage to young men who grow up with impossible standards defined by their fathers or other male role models.
When it comes to the cast, Spaeny, Luna, Simone, and Adlon make a great witchy quartet. Even though the first one is the film's main character, I absolutely adored Lovie Simone (from Selah and the Spades) as an outspoken, quirky Tabby. It was also great to see Luna amongst diverse cast. All four actresses did a terrific job portraying four complex young women. The supporting characters and various villains, however, don't have clear, outlined motives for their actions. They're quite rushed and hence, make a weaker case for themselves. I would love to see more of their back story that might explain their behavior in more depth.
Ultimately, what makes the film particularly interesting is the finale. It's quite a pleasant surprise and a wink to an audience that loves films centered on witchcraft – especially the original The Craft. That wink to the audience makes the whole experience quite an entertaining, spooky watch.
Additionally, the film doesn't focus solely on one aspect - it touches upon the topic of toxic masculinity that hurts young men, along with community and loneliness. Using various characters – the main four and their adversaries, we discern the true meaning of The Craft: Legacy. The director's goal was to make a spooky, witchy film where the magic doesn't necessarily play the main part in the plot, but is still an integral aspect of and teaches important lessons – one being that you cannot always rely on magic and simply waiting for something to happen. You have to work on it.
If your plan is to relax after a hard day's work, The Craft: Legacy is a good choice. The film is a pleasant watch for the whole family and especially young people. It has enough going on to keep everyone interested and is ultimately an enjoyable choice for your Halloween movie night. It certainly stumbles and, at times, feels rushed, but the ideas within it create an intriguing, contemporary response to the 1996 hit.
Zofia's Rating: 3.5 out of 5
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