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  Craft Legacy, The Never Mind The Warlocks
Year: 2020
Director: Zoe Lister-Jones
Stars: Cailee Spaeny, Zoey Luna, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, David Duchovny, Michelle Monaghan, Nicholas Galitzine, Julian Grey, Charles Vandervaart, Donald MacLean Jr, Fairuza Balk, Hannah Gordon, Chris Tomassetti, Kris Siddiqi, James Madge
Genre: Drama, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Teenage Lily (Cailee Spaeny) is moving to a new town with her single mother Helen (Michelle Monaghan), which means a new home, a new school, new siblings and a new dad, Adam (David Duchovny). He is welcoming but Lily feels awkward and misplaced in this new environment, leaving her to wonder what school will be like. It could not start worse, as during one class on her first day she suffers a heavy flow of her period which leaves blood on the floor, and resident class clown Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine) makes a big deal of it, humiliating her further. However, as she rushes to the girl's restroom in tears, she is followed by three other girls, who happen to have talents Lily could share, for they are all teen witches...

Blumhouse continued to Hoover up the franchises with this remake/spin-off of The Craft, the 1996 horror for girls that had a fair reception at the time, but went onto be a cult favourite among nineties teens that proved to have staying power. Naturally, this was the motive for returning to the well, but fans were let down in general by it, the majority not feeling it was as effective as the source. Actually, although it was accurate to observe there was a second hand quality about it, this Craft was not a total dead loss, it simply came across as inessential and even half-formed in comparison to the killer premise that it adopted. Even the members of the four-girl coven had a perfunctory design, as if to be summed up by one characteristic.

Be that black (Lovie Simone), trans (Zoey Luna) or, er, the one who was neither black nor trans (Gideon Adlon), and our lead character who got all the interesting things to do. They all got one line each (count 'em) to offer personality, or a single identifier at least, which in a film that otherwise was trying to supply a commentary on the contemporary trends of gender and racial politics, just wasn't good enough. What was adequate, anyway, was that the writer and director Zoe Lister-Jones (a diehard fan of the original, and it showed) did present a few scenes with the ideological minefield of negotiating the identities of those around you with humour and sympathy - Timmy gets a consciousness raising spell to smooth off those rough edges, but it has troubling consequences. However, what it wasn't, was a horror movie. There were no scares.

Unless your idea of horror was a social faux pas, this Craft was more of a fantasy, with the witchcraft accepted without any suggestion it could lead to frightfulness as happened in the original, which for all its Girl Power themes did end with said girls at each other's throats. The villain was easy to spot, and his reasons for setting himself against Lily and company were flimsy, meaning the grand finale, where they turn to murder to get the upper hand, were not only conjured up practically from out of the blue, but seemed an overreaction given how mild the rest of it had been, the occasional deliberately jarring moment aside (there were two or three at most). Really this was more informed by superhero cinema or Harry Potter, where those much sought after superpowers had no drawbacks and merely enabled the possessor to get what they wanted out of life without toiling for them. It was a pity, as the elements were here for a fresh take on a very decent teen chiller, but just OK was all this could muster. Music by Heather Christian (a bit silly in the final battle).

[There is a selection of featurettes with chats from cast and crew on Sony's Blu-ray.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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