Viking Night: The Craft
By Bruce Hall
August 26, 2014
Something sinister is going on with boobs in this movie. I don’t know much about Andrew Fleming (he directed this film, and according to Wikipedia he’s not dead), but I know the man is trying to tell us something about boobs. Also witches, but I’m pretty sure that being a witch does something to your boobs. If you’re not sure about the title, The Craft is a mildly adventurous, mildly entertaining spin on the teen film genre where this time some of the kids are into witchcraft. But we’re not talking about the “turning people into newts” and “getting burned at the stake" kind. These girls are more the “levitating pencils,” “generating a slight but noticeable breeze,” and eventually the “manipulating your breast size at will” kind of witches.
That would be a welcome addition to any film, except for one thing. While the actresses who play them are well into their 20s, the characters themselves are high school kids. I feel like someone didn’t really think that through and I can’t be the only one who’s noticed this. I’m not saying it’s a deal breaker. We are, after all, talking about a movie where Neve Campbell plays a supernatural being with body image issues. But considering the degree to which these characters are eventually sexualized, it’s worth mentioning because it feels more than a little disingenuous.
Anyway - there are three witches, and they live in northern California. Nancy (Fairuza Balk) is the brains of the outfit. She lives in a leaky trailer with a shiftless, drunk mother and abusive father. She’s also a dark and stormy soul who dresses like a paramilitary Goth and whose demeanor suggests someone who drowns kittens for fun. Basically, she’s everything you want in a leader. Bonnie (Neve Campbell) is quiet and surly but suffers emotionally from an unspecified accident that left her with a horrible disfigurement - which is conveniently not on any visible part of her celebrity body. Rochelle (Rachel True) is what I would call the Token Ethnic Character if I were cynical, but I’m not. The script just happens to be written that way, so it's a total coincidence.
These are examples of how The Craft initially works hard to drum up your sympathy. Having to live with a physical disfigurement can’t be easy for anyone but when it allows you to still look like Neve Campbell – and your parents are totally super supportive of you – it’s hard to cry more than a little. Rochelle has to deal with exactly one racist bitch of a classmate, which of course is something nobody should have to endure. But Rosa Parks, she is not. Only Nancy’s life seems like actual hell but her character is treated the least sympathetically of them all. But the larger point is that they all are outcasts, and they all share the bond of witchcraft. They spend all their time together casting their incredibly subtle spells (I think I made that dog bark – or did it see another dog?) and patiently waiting for a prophesied fourth member to join their group.