Four amateur witches (Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell and Rachel True) find that witchcraft is no joke in this oddly humourless teen movie from 1996.
Around this time, TV’s Buffy and Wes Craven’s Scream spearheaded a high school horror boom, similar to the one in the ’80s but with more self-awareness and plaid skirts. Although The Craft features two of Scream‘s lead actors (Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich) it eschews comedy in favour of conservative undertones that feel more Breakfast Club than Losers Club.
Despite appearances, The Craft has nothing to do with sisterhood and mistreats its coolest and weirdest character (Fairuza Balk) just because she’s gothy, in contrast to Robin Tunney’s conventionally attractive hero. The cast are bewitching, and their costumes bitching, but let down by a script bereft of the ’90s teen slang that elevated the Buffy movie and Clueless. The only real similarity with Clueless is that Breckin Meyer plays the same character. Maybe it’s a young Jon Arbuckle, and one of the witches enchanted his cat.
Where the best teen movies punch upwards, whether its Ginger Snaps, Mean Girls or Heathers, this one takes a dim view of witchy weirdos. If you’re wondering which witch to watch, Willow’s magic addiction storyline in Buffy‘s sixth season uses witchcraft to explore these themes with a level of sensitivity and craft missing from The Craft‘s spell book. A grimoire indeed.