THE CRAFT LEGACY is the feature film debut from writer/director Zoe Lister-Jones which continues the story from The Craft for a whole new generation. The film stars Cailee Spaeny (Bad Times at the El Royale), Gideon Adlon (The Society), Lovie Simone (Selah & the Spades), Zoey Luna (Pose), and Nicholas Galitzine (Cinderella), with Michelle Monaghan and David Duchovny.
To best describe the plot of the film, I’ll turn to the official synopsis: “THE CRAFT LEGACY is a continuation of the cult hit The Craft (1996), in which an eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.”
Before diving into this review I want to say it’s important to remember that just like the ’96 version of the film spoke to that generation, this film will do the same for today’s generation. This isn’t your emo-goth coven, instead it’s presented in a colorful and vibrant way, a vastly different look and feel to its predecessor. But just like the original, it tackles important societal issues as well as the importance of empowering all women.
Our main coven is made up of Lily (Cailee Spaeny), Tabby (Lovie Simone), Frankie (Gideon Adlone), and Lourdes (Zoey Luna). Tackling a sequel to such an iconic cult classic is no easy undertaking, but these four managed to tackle that challenge head-on with a performance that is both sincere and natural. Having recently spoken to the four actors there seems to be a genuine bond between them which only helped to amplify their on-screen friendship. Their individuality shines through in their corresponding elements which are identified throughout the film not only in their look (clothing, makeup, etc.) but by their personality traits as well. Each of their performances melded wonderfully together, as though it was a united front on all sides. Though Spaeny may be considered the more “well-known” out of the bunch, it’s the power of the four of them that makes the film truly special.
The film introduces us to Lily and her mom, Helen (Michelle Monaghan) who is in a budding new romance with self-help guru, Adam (David Duchovny). After Helen moves her and Lily in with Adam and his three sons, an interesting dynamic begins to form within the new household. Monaghan gives off an agreeable “cool mom” vibe but I felt like her character was a bit underutilized as I would have liked to have seen the complexities between her and Lily explored more. Though Duchovny’s performance felt, at times, phoned in, the character of Adam was an interesting specimen to dissect. This isn’t Duchovny’s strongest role to date but he’s entertaining nonetheless and kept me on guard for the duration of the film.
Themes surrounding consent, toxic masculinity and sexual orientation are very much at the forefront. Viewers will find that the horror is deeply embedded within the actions of humans with the focus of magic being secondary. That said, when we are shown the more supernatural aspects they are immensely important to the narrative. When Lily starts at her new school, she is confronted by Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine), the school jock, who bullies her, and its through that experience that a tipping point occurs and her powers are first revealed. The film also pays homage to its predecessor with moments such as the famous “Light as a feather, stiff as a board” scene from the original. However, it’s not as impressive as when our new teenage coven comes together to show how strong their powers are as one unit and the world quite literally stands still.
For a film with such heavy feminist tones, I’m so glad 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. My only gripe with Luna’s character was we didn’t get to see more of her! Furthermore, the film also deals with a characters bisexuality in a touching way that isn’t often seen in mainstream films. I’m not sure if I agree with how the entire storyline unfolds as I felt like that character didn’t get a fare shake, it’s still one that’s going to elicit an important dialogue. 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.
Overall, THE CRAFT LEGACY is a bewitching pop-culture timestamp that carries an important message of acceptance, inclusivity and respect. It’s not going to be for everyone AND THAT IS OKAY. This is a film that can stand on its own while still being attached to a film that so many of us in this genre love. Lister-Jones has created a story for Gen Z and I’m beyond excited for them to experience it and to have their own like I did when I was their age. I fully believe that this film will turn into it’s own cult classic in the years to come and I can’t wait to see it flourish. It’s not perfect, it lacks the scares and the edge of the first one and suffers from weak character development, but it’s also a important reminder that powerful men can’t keep us down. And what better time to look more closely at that than now.
THE CRAFT LEGACY premieres on PVOD and EST on October 28, 2020.