As a kid born in the late 80s and growing up in the 90s, I’m here to let you know that The Craft was very much my shit. Anything adult/young adult leaning with an ooky spooky aesthetic and contemporary gothic theming like The Crow, Practical Magic, even Heathers, were the epitome of cool for me, and and a result 1996’s The Craft holds a very special place in my heart. It was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation, then, that I dove into this new addition to the universe, not a remake, but not strictly a sequel either.
Written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones, The Craft: Legacy tells the story of Lily Schechner (Cailee Speany), a teenage girl who, after moving to a new town with her mother, finds a trio of friends who help her realise her magical potential, completing their coven. Using various degrees of magic to navigate some classic high school politics and facing a foreboding friction with her new stepfather (David Duchovny), Lily’s life becomes very complicated, very fast.
There are some things that I liked about The Craft: Legacy, but unfortunately, there are an also an equal amount of things that I did not. I’ll start with the positives. For the most part, the film is very watchable thanks to a range of fun performances. You want to spend time with this coven of characters and from a personal standpoint, stories about female friendship and self discovery are always a winner for me. Where the The Craft: Legacy falls down in a major way, however, is its frankly awful third act.
The film works up to a final confrontation that has almost nothing to do with the main ‘high school drama’ elements that had taken centre stage in the better, earlier stages of the film, and instead moves towards a ‘defeat the final boss’ conclusion that, besides feeling out of place, looks absolutely amateur in its execution. I don’t know what the budget was for this picture, but the climax looks so cheap that I can’t imagine it was big.
My other big issue with the film is the way in which it aligns itself with The Craft in general. I hate ‘sequels’ that simply tag on a big reveal connecting the story to a beloved original in literally the final frame, and that is exactly what The Craft: Legacy does. I won’t spoil the reveal, and I have seen a lot of people praising it, but for me it felt like a desperate crumb being thrown to lend this story some of the weight of the original. Maybe I’m just 30 now and not 13, but this film doesn’t feel anywhere near as cool as the original felt, nor does it feel as dangerous or edgy at any point.
As I said, much of what I found positive about the film was found in the performances. As Lily, Cailee Speany is a really great lead, an actress with very expressing and engaging eyes that draws you in and has you rooting for her without even thinking about it. The rest of the coven are very good in their respective roles too, especially Gideon Adlon as Frankie who gets the vast majority of the film’s one liners. Adlon brings a sense of fun to the film that, whilst not necessarily fitting in with darker modern gothic vibe, is still very fun to watch.
Nicholas Galitzine as Timmy Andrews, a promineny high school class mate of the girls, does some really great work in one of the more interesting supporting roles. Galitzine has star quality, and I’m actually excited to see what he does from here on.
One role and performance that sticks out in a negative way is David Duchovny as Lily’s mother’s new boyfriend Adam. Besides being extremely low energy and unremarkable with his acting, the character that Duchovny has to play is like something straight out of a bad Buffy episode (with the bad effects to match). His motivations are half baked, his actions are confusing and ultimately any scene involving Adam grinds what little momentum and fun the film had going to a complete halt.
By now, the inclusion of a particular character and actress from the original film has been well divulged on the internet, but for the sake of purity I’ll refrain from all comment except to urge you not be overly excited. When I say seconds, I really mean seconds.
Overall, I think I have to chalk The Craft: Legacy up as something of a disappointment. There are the bones of something good here, but failures in tying up the story and an eye rolling attempt to connect the film to its cult classic predecessor leave a sour taste in my mouth. The talented young members of the cast are definitely its greatest asset, but ultimately, this sequel is neither a strong movie by itself nor a credible or worthy addition to The Craft’s legacy, pun intended!