Director: Andrew Fleming
Stars: Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
The Craft is the 1996 girl power, Wicca power, bit of high school fantasy empowerment fiction that had a bunch of future “big name” actors in it, tons of style, and would pave the way for the cult success of the TV show Charmed. Many kids of the 90s latched on to this witchy little flick and loved it and many still fondly look back at it with the rosiest of glasses today. But how does it hold up, for real, over twenty years after it first came out? Well, grab your broomstick, remember to call the corners, don’t fall for any glamours, and let’s find out.
Robin Tunney plays a shy girl at a new high school who makes friends with the three “weird” girls of the school. Neve Campbell is even shyer and withdrawn because of burn scars on her body, Fairuza Balk is the wild, Goth one who comes from white trash, and Rachel True is black. Yep, that’s all the character development she gets. *Gasp* All three are also into Wicca but so far they haven’t been having any luck with the magical mojo. They invite Robin’s new girl into their little coven and suddenly they have real power. Power to affect change, to make their lives better, and like all power, they have more than enough power to let it go to their heads and abuse it. Naturally, good girl Robin doesn’t like where this is headed and leaves the coven, but that only angers the power obsessed and psychotic Fairuza. Soon it’s the three teenage witches against one and things get dark and surprisingly deadly. Oh, and toss in Skeet Ulrich as a scummy love interest that likes to spread lies about the girls he dates and Breckin Meyer as one of his toadies.
The Craft is 90s as hell with its look and sound. It is to the 90s as something like The Breakfast Club is to the 80s, and I love it for that. I enjoy time capsule films that have a strong sense of when they were made. It is well acted by all the leading ladies, less so by the guys in the film, with the standout being Fairuza Balk. Yes, she is pants-on-head crazy and obsessed with her newfound power, but she also gives two fists of pathos and this helps her character to be more than a two-dimensional villain. The magic effects (and by that I mostly mean CGI) range from “oh that did not age well” to still passable. The cinematography and the soundtrack are both epically 90s, and the direction by Andrew Fleming is solid and much improved since his earlier dream thriller Bad Dreams (which, for the record, I do enjoy).
Okay, let’s get to those extras that Scream Factory has put out on this new Blu-ray Collector’s Edition. First and foremost there is a director’s commentary with Andrew Fleming, and Andrew comes back for a 15-minute interview. There is also an interview with producer Douglas Wick that is 13 minutes long, one with co-screenwriter Peter Filardi that’s just under 11 minutes long, and one with effects artist Tony Gardner that’s just over 11 minutes. There are two featurettes, “Conjuring the Craft” that is all about Wicca and runs 25 minutes long, and “The Making of The Craft” which at six minutes is more of a marketing/PR thing than anything in-depth. There is also a collection of deleted scenes and a theatrical trailer.
The Craft is a bit of 90s teen angst witchcraft fun. None too serious, never really scary, but all sorts of enjoyable, especially if you were alive during that time. A pure popcorn flick but hey, I like popcorn so yes, I like this movie. If you do too, then you need to get this new Scream Factory version of it as it is the best one around. Consider it recommended.