Stiff As A Board!
Updated: Oct 30
For the most part, The Craft 2020 was a (very) surprisingly OK film, on the surface, but was let down by an incredibly lacklustre final act. But on deeper digging, the film was really rather flawed.
What you're about to read is less of a review, and more the ramblings of a man who watched The Craft: Legacy and drunk some wine.
Many Many spoilers ahead, read with caution and only if you have seen the film.
Surface Level: I really enjoyed our new Witches. I thought the acting was great and their friendship felt genuine. This new Coven are charming, and more than probably relatable to many teens today. It's in this friendship where Legacy is at its strongest.
Seeds were being planted on where the story was going and I found myself pleasantly surprised.
And then things took a turn... All of a sudden, and with no backstory or intent, David Duchovny's Adam is thrown in as the antagonist and the Witches come face to face with a Warlock and proceed to have THE MOST LACKLUSTRE confrontation I've seen in a long time. Even a few of The Craft's cheap knock off, low budget films include better confrontations than what this film was trying to deliver. And then we end on a story thread which fuses this version with the original film. I bet every single fan of the original jumped out their seat with joy, to quickly fall back down with an eye roll as the end credits immediately appear. Talk about a misfire.
Below The Surface: Whilst I did enjoy Cailee Spaeny, Zoey Luna, Gideon Adlon and Lovie Simone's time on the screen, the story was mainly following Lily, and as endearing as she was, I wanted to see more of Lourdes, Frankie and Tabby. We knew nothing about them or their family lives, thus not really binding the girls together as an ensemble piece. The embracing of sisterhood and unity was very endearing, and in contrast to the original it was nice to see the girls embracing their power without the need to use it for evil or some power-hungry personal gain. But beyond that, we have no real connections to understanding their powers. Surely they didn't just read a book and all of a sudden they can stop time? Surely it's not that simple? Its quite clear writer / director Zoe Lister-Jones doesn't have much knowledge of the Occult, otherwise she would have written it into the film, which is incidentally about the Occult. It's in the damn title. A bit of research would have done this film the world of good.
And the underdeveloped writing doesn't stop there. We are introduced to a host of characters we know nothing about, or what their importance is when trying to advance the story. I began to like Nicholas Galitzine's Timmy and the trajectory of his character, but then he is killed off screen without exploring the real reasons why or the implications of his death. I think showing the audience what happened would have been a nice hook into introducing Adam's Coven and his intentions as an antagonist.
Firstly, why on earth does Adam have 3 sons? The only character that's there as part of the plot is Isaiah, and he was barely on screen and only used as part of Timmy's storyline. So many wasted characters, I really don't know what Lister-Jones was trying to achieve. Much like her characters, her writing is very underdeveloped here.
And Adam himself... Who is he? Who are his Coven? Did he hook up with Helen purely to steal Lily's powers, and why? There must be a deeper meaning than the eye rolling explanation of 'Women mustn't have powers!' - surely this film is better than that idiotic reasoning? Maybe it has something to do with Manon since he threw that word in as a wink to the original fans, but without exploring that thread either. More wasted opportunities.
Now, let's talk about that final frame. Finally the subtitle 'Legacy ' comes full circle with the reveal that Lily's real Mother is Nancy, seeing Fairuza Balk reprising her role; albeit for 2 seconds. Ok, cool. Nice tie in with the original. But now what? Opening more frustrating questions was not the best way to appease fans of the original. If Nancy is still locked away, how and when did she give birth? What was her connection to Helen? There must be some deep bond there for Nancy to give her Lily. And what is Adam's connection to Nancy? He must have been pretty close to her to know about her past, her powers and that she had a child. So many questions and no answers, leaving a sour taste in ones mouth as the jaw remains open in shock that the end credits are rolling as the final 'twist' leaves a lot to be desired.
For fear of rambling too much I'll try to conclude. Without the need or want to compare the 2 films, it's worth to note that the original's runtime is 3 minutes longer than the newer version, yet packs in a lot more, spends time to fully develop each of the 4 Witches as well as deliver a fully realised plot.
Despite similar runtimes, there was so much missing from Legacy, it didn't give us enough of what was making it good and felt incredibly rushed. Almost as if Lister-Jones was given a list of things to include and she was ticking them off as she was writing.
This might be the wine talking, but this could have been a Netflix show. A 4 - 6 episode series allowing time to explore everything that was left on the floor. The premise had so much potential, but it definitely needed baking a lot longer and it should have cleverly used the original as a spring board as opposed to including a cheap tack on. I doubt we'll be talking about The Craft: Legacy next year, let alone 24 years later.
Ramblings by Craig Fisher.