The 400-Word Review - The Craft Legacy
By Sean Collier
October 28, 2020
On the one hand, “The Craft: Legacy” is an enjoyable and smart update of its ’90s source material. The new quartet of young witches is more rounded and real than their predecessors — and where the original was mostly a pulpy, witchy romp, this version has plenty to say.
On the other hand: Everything about this movie is in service of a sequel, if not a full series, that I doubt we’ll ever see. It’s like watching the first two episodes of a television series, if the rest of that series had somehow blinked out of existence.
The result: “The Craft: Legacy” is, somehow, simultaneously satisfying and unsatisfying. Which is a pretty rare trick, all things considered.
The protagonist is Lily (Cailee Spaeny), a smart yet socially awkward teen. Her mother (Michelle Monaghan) is moving in with a new flame (David Duchovny), an alpha-type with a trio of troubled sons.
After Lily endures an embarrassing moment on her first day of school, a trio of devout Wiccans (Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone and Zoey Luna) befriend her; when Lily accidentally tosses the school bully into a locker with some “Carrie” style telekinesis, the gang invites her to join their coven.
All these issues don’t really comprise a plot with conflict and structure; more accurately, they’re just a series of events that occur. Director/writer Zoe Lister-Jones does a fine job establishing the world of her characters and making each young witch interesting and genuine; what she doesn’t seem interested in is fleshing out a proper story. Things happen — mysterious details about Lily’s new stepfather emerge, a spell cast on a classmate has unexpected results — but these never truly produce a clear understanding of what this particular film is about. I noted the time at 58 minutes when it finally became who the antagonist was. (The credits rolled less than 30 minutes later.)
These factors — including a key reveal in the film’s final shot — certainly point to “The Craft” having been pitched as a series of films. More accurately, though, this feels like slick and polished television series. If what I had seen were indeed the opening few episodes of a Netflix series, it would be great; as a standalone film, it’s more than a bit limp. Even with franchise ambitions — still a common affliction — it remains necessary to make individual movies stand on their own merits.
My Rating: 6/10
“The Craft: Legacy” is now available via digital on-demand services.