Horror film fans are some of the most unforgiving cinephiles there are. They are never afraid to tell a filmmaker what is ‘wrong’ with a film and if someone dares make massive changes to a horror franchise then you better believe that everybody on social media is going to hear about. While many filmmakers have come unstuck through the passion of the genre’s fans one group has managed to avoid any of that fury over the past few years – Blumhouse Studios.
Formed by producer Jason Blum Blumhouse have become one of the most prolific film studios over the past few years and have had no issue with putting their stamp on some of the biggest horror franchises that cinema has ever seen – and the result has been both well received and profitable. Perhaps the jewel in the crown was releasing a Halloween film in 2018 that even the most hardcore fans embraced with open arms.
Now Blumhouse take on a new challenge. Taking the beloved 1996 film supernatural-thriller The Craft and giving it a modern day sequel. Everybody involved with this film went to great lengths to point out that this is not a remake or a rebooting and while I was sceptical to begin with I have to credit – they have created a sequel that works while paying homage to the original.
Written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones (Band Aid) The Craft: Legacy centres around teenager Lily (Cailee Spaeny – Pacific Rim: Uprising) whose life is turned upside down when her mother, Helen (Michelle Monaghan – Source Code) moves them across the country so she can move with her boyfriend Adam (David Duchovny – The X-Files).
While the move originally terrifies Lily it is soon made a little more bearable when she meets three young witches at her High School whom quickly pick up on the fact that she is the powerful fourth that their coven needs.
If the plot does sound a little close to that of the original The Craft you would be right. To their credit though Lister-Jones and Blumhouse do create enough new plot devices to make the film work without being labelled a carbon copy. For starters the film does have a ‘woke’ feeling to it. Instead of the witches simply casting a love spell like in the original this time their ‘victim’ is Timmy (Nicholas Galtizine – High Strung), the school’s resident nasty jock who the witches believe can be improved and made a better person with a simple personality altering spell.
Whether the events that then follow is the director’s way of making a statement about ‘woke’ culture is in the eyes of the viewer but either way the film does not ever become preachy towards its audience. Lister-Jones is also creative in the way she has the film link back to the original but I cannot tell you too much about that as it is a massive spoiler.
Despite the fact that so many things do work for The Craft: Legacy the film does have some negatives that prevent it from being a great film as well. It does feel that Lister-Jones took the safe route with this film. The story is simple and clearly aimed at a teenage audience but aside from that it seems like the film was afraid to take any big risks. In these days and times we have seen shows like Riverdale and The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina take older ideas and give them a darker twist and to be honest I think The Craft: Legacy could have benefitted from a little darker twist because at times the film felt like it was just a little ‘teenage’ centric.
The other flaw with the film is that a few of the major twists in it are severely sign-posted to the point where the audience can predict what is going to happen next. This alongside the fact that it felt that David Duchovny was under-used does suggest that this film could have been improved with a few risks taken here and there and even a longer runtime could have helped things out a little.
For the most part The Craft: Legacy is a smooth, yet enjoyable watch. You do get a strong feeling that neither Lister-Jones or Blumhouse wanted to rock the boat too much for hardened The Craft fans and the result is a film that possibly plays it a little too safe. Still fans won’t be too disappointed but let’s hope that film number three does have a bit more of an edge to it.