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I admit it. Back when I was 16 or so I was an out-of-the- mainstream, felt-like-a-nerd kid. My friends were the same way. So it is not a great stretch for me to empathize with the out-of- the-mainstream kids who form the core of The Craft. Sure, two decades back I read a lot of books on witchcraft and the dark arts; I also read a comic book called Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts, so you can see how seriously I took it all. Somewhere there was a writer who went through the same stuff, and thought to himself what if?
That writer would be Peter Filardi. Right here I'll congratulate Mr. Filardi for putting together a script that did not make Cranky walk out of the theater in the middle, as did his Flatliners. Cranky sort of liked The Craft. It was fun. But not for the reasons its creators wanted it to be.
As The Craft begins, we meet three outcasts who diddle around with chanting pretend witchcraft when they are not in class at an expensive Catholic school somewhere in Los Angeles, California. Lots of Jesus on the Cross imagery at the start of the film . . . Come to think of it, that's probably why I never took witchcraft more seriously. If you don't buy the Jesus Christ mythology, then you don't buy the anti-Jesus Christ stuff either. At least I didn't. Still don't.
Which brings us back to our fine young ladies. There is Bonnie (Neve Campbell), who was badly burned and carries horrible scars all over her back. Understandably, she is terribly introverted. Her mother is sympathetic and supportive, but her father is nowhere to be seen. Our second witch is Rochelle (Rachel True), the only black girl in a school filled with wealthy white kids. Strangely enough, she doesn't seem to have any parents at all. Then there is the leader, Nancy (Fairuza Balk), who dresses like Joan Jett used to and carries an attitude befitting the nose ring she wears. Nancy's mom wanted (still wants, actually) to be 50's singing star Connie Francis. Dad is nowhere to be seen, either, so mom is shacked up with a pig slob. They are white trash to the bone.
Enter new kid on the block, Sarah (Robin Tunney). Sarah's mother died in childbirth which means, in the mysticism of witchery, that she has inherited her mother's powers. Mom really was a witch, you see. Mix one untrained but potent witch with three would be witches and you have the makings of a cauldron of trouble. Bonnie wants the power to make the scars disappear, so she can be pretty. Rochelle wants power for revenge on the rich white girl who makes fun of her nappy hair. Nancy wants not to be trash, but moreso Nancy just wants POWER! She's also little bit crazy, so you can see where this ridiculous piece of moviemaking is going almost from word two.
For all the candle lighting and chanting, the three original witches don't believe for a second that they have powers. When Sarah shows up, things happen. They go overboard in reaction. They seek revenge against all the other kids who have ridiculed them. When Sarah seeks to leave the coven, they seek revenge against her. At that point, The Craft changes from a sort of interesting us versus the in-crowd kind of story to a would be horror film without any of the blood and guts.
Cranky had no problem with the performances offered by the four leads. Nancy is stereotype up the wazoo, which is appropriate, and the others are all that the story requires.
Back to that story: There is an attempt to introduce an older witch, in a subplot which has no bearing whatsoever on the main story. But there are plenty of rats, snakes, cockroaches, worms and other disgusting creatures. As the ending comes, the whole house of cards comes crashing down in a poorly choreographed battle between Nancy and Sarah. If you can't see the final resolution coming, I'm talking post battle, then The Craft succeeds.
But if you're like everyone else in the paying audience I sat with, you've probably been giggling up a storm.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Craft, he would have paid....
The Craft is enjoyably goofy until it collapses under the weight of its own misdirection. Is it a goofy story? Is it a horror story? Perhaps it's a Candy? No, it's a mint! It's not a complete mess, but it is thoroughly ridiculous. Then again, were I sixteen I would probably be thinking "Cool looking babes. Neat powers." But I'm not sixteen.
Cool looking babes, though...
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