Call the corners, drink of your sisters, slap on a cat-eye and have at it with the glitter: The Craft: Legacy is here and it’s spectacular.
“Wait, you have good news? For this Halloween?” It’s surprising, I know.
‘The Craft: Legacy’ is here and it’s spectacular.
In a year rife with misfortune, Blumhouse’s follow-up to The Craft seemed bound for failure.
Of course, revisiting a cult classic is always divisive, but first reactions to writer-director Zoe Lister-Jones’ Craft continuation were especially apprehensive. Concerns over the trailer varied, including “not enough Love Spit Love,” “not enough Fairuza Balk,” “not enough black,” etc. Still, one sentiment appeared universal: Halloween already sucks this year, why ruin The Craft too?
And yet, when the credits rolled on my first at-home Legacy viewing (oh, I’ve watched it three times already), the furthest thing from my mind was what this successor could’ve or should’ve been.
A spunky little sister to Andrew Fleming’s 1996 goth-chic masterpiece — the Craft director executive produced the new film as well, and it shows — The Craft: Legacy is a worthwhile continuation of the outcasts-win universe fans already worship. But it also has enough magic to stand on its own as a fun, inclusive, and important gem that feels especially needed in this tumultuous time. That you don’t need to have seen The Craft appreciate its Legacy is a bonus.
In this spooky-yet-sparkly sequel, Cailee Spaeny stars as Lily, a natural-born witch not yet in control of her powers. When Lily enrolls at a new school, she meets Frankie, Tabby, and Lourdes, played by Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, and Zoey Luna, respectively.
Together, the young women form a coven and vow to abide by all the laws of witchcraft introduced in the first film. Manon, binding, invoking the spirit, random butterflies, and snakes — it’s all there. But the context in which our new heroines explore spell-casting is appropriately updated.
With the punk-rock pleather exchanged for a more ethereal, Euphoria-Esque wardrobe and the ’90s indie jams switched for 2020 artists like Princess Nokia (a soundtrack choice one character literally and rightfully screams with joy over), The Craft: Legacy assumes a recognizable Instagram aesthetic from the jump. The central characters take on familiar Gen-Z lingo too and make enough contemporary references to firmly cement the film’s status as a solid 2020 time capsule. It’s very entertaining to watch, a snarky combo of over-the-top visuals and off-the-cuff wit typical of a generation born into the internet age and its consequences.
Continuing the modernization, the magic itself is also improved. Not only are the special effects far more effective in The Craft: Legacy (thank god), the girls are also able to wield more power than their predecessors as a result. For example, Lily learns early on that she has a knack for telekinetically meeting dudes across school hallways, and makes liberal use of it.
Keeping with the great tradition of being both totally obsession-worthy and kind of a mess, The Craft: Legacy never takes itself too seriously.
Good thing for the coven, too, because the central conflict of The Craft: Legacy is a somewhat higher stakes affair than the schism chronicled in the original. I won’t get into too many details, since it’s certainly better left unspoiled. But suffice to say, it’s somewhere in the ballpark of Black Christmas meets Mean Girls meets a very specific scene from Halloweentown.
If all that sounds like it could be a little soapy, that’s because it is. Keeping with The Craft‘s great tradition of being both totally obsession-worthy and kind of a mess, The Craft: Legacy never takes itself too seriously. Even in its most profound messaging (the girls barrel through social justice topics like all very online witches do), the tone is light yet sensitive, relaxed but sincere.
That the movie’s more complicated conceits, notably including a discussion of informed consent as it relates to witchcraft, land as well as they do is a testament to both Lister-Jones’ excellent writing and the tremendous talent of her young cast.
Spaeny’s Lily is the earnest every girl you want to root for; Luna’s Lourdes is a formidable leader with warmth to spare; Simone’s Tabby is a magnetic force with the best line in the movie, and Adlon’s Frankie never met a scene she couldn’t steal. Not to mention, Nicholas Galitzine’s Timmy — essentially, this chapter’s Chris Hooker (played by Skeet Ulrich in the original) — delivers a villain-turned-love interest as captivating as any other I’ve seen.
More daydream than a nightmare, The Craft: Legacy delivers an enchanting outing that honors its origins while maintaining the ease and self-awareness characteristic of a timelessly great scary movie. Come for the love of what was, stay for the promise of what could be, and if it still doesn’t jive with you? Well, maybe you aren’t the weirdo ruling this witching season.