The Craft


Rating 3½

Directed by Andrew Fleming

Written by Peter Filardi and Andrew Fleming

Starring Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True and Skeet Ulrich

I have watched ‘The Craft’ several times over the eleven years since its first release into cinemas, but for some reason it’s a film I am prone to forget about –- until I watch it again, at which point I remember just how much I enjoy it.

The film is credited with inspiring a renewed interest in Wicca and the “Gothic” amongst American teenagers. It could be argued, with some degree of justification, that it had an obvious influence on ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Charmed’.

The plot is simple enough. Four teenage girls, outcasts at their high school, are drawn together by their shared interest in paganism and witchcraft. However, as they become more adept at conjuring magic they begin to use it for personal gain and to curse their enemies. The newest member of the group, the one with the genuine gift, becomes increasingly estranged from the other three.

The four main players are great and work well together. Rochelle (played by Rachel True, who was thirty-years-old when the film was made, making her at least thirteen years older than her character) isn’t immediately obvious as a “high school outcast”, but the plot points to racism, as identified by the antagonism towards her exhibited by Laura Lizzie, played by Christine Taylor, the wife of Ben Stiller and the actress who played Marsha in ‘The Brady Bunch Movie’. Bonnie, who is played by Neve Campbell, star at that time of the TV show ‘Party Of Five’, in her first major film role, has terrible burns across her back and shoulders. Nancy (a fantastically over-the-top barnstorming performance by Fairuza Balk) lives in a trailer with her alcoholic mother and abusive stepfather. Sarah (Robin Tunney), who is dealing with the death of her mother, is an outcast simply because she is a new arrival at the school.

The film is too glossy to allow any genuine sense of the main protagonists being “outcasts”, especially when it concentrates on Sarah, who clearly comes from a privileged family background, and if there was any intention to be anything other than popcorn “teen horror” entertainment this is partially lost when it goes completely over-the-top in its final stages. However, the suggestion in the coda that Sarah is quite prepared to use dark magicks is interesting, allowing for what has come before.

The director and co-writer Andrew Fleming has recently made a new film version of ‘Nancy Drew’.


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