Entertainment » Movies

Review: 'The Craft: Legacy' Falls Short of the Original

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Dec 22, 2020
'The Craft: Legacy'
'The Craft: Legacy'  

The '90s cult classic "The Craft" gets a painfully woke remake with "The Craft: Legacy." As if directed by Ryan Murphy, there isn't a page of this woefully bland retread that isn't dripping with causes, issues, and diversity.

Don't get me wrong; every subject addressed in "Legacy" is worthy, and this reviewer would normally be here for it, but the screenplay by director Zoe Lister-Jones (also an actress herself) clearly hasn't met a controversial topic she hasn't wanted to address by firmly showing what side she rests on.

Here she tackles LGBTQ diversity with a trans character, a bisexual character, and a possible lesbian (although the character is never defined in any way other than she's Black). There are numerous people of color, and a "men are bad" theme that snakes its way into a male character with toxic masculinity, using it as a rallying cry against the #metoo movement - which is also a repeated theme.

None of these things are bad, of course, but when you have a movie packed full of them, there's no room to fully explore any of them. It's like the studio wanted to make the most up-to-date and politically correct movie they could, but they forgot to actually make a movie worth watching.

While not an actual remake, "Legacy" kind of does the CliffNotes version of the 1996 film until it starts to veer into territory that's not as girl vs. girl as the first. (Girls have to support each other now, dontcha' know.) The problem is, that's what made the first movie fun. There's no whacked out Nancy ("tricky tricky tricky") and no witch-on-witch fights. Now it's all about the power of women - and while that is noble, it sort of sucks the fun out of what should be a supernatural lark. Did the studio not understand exactly why the first film was a success to begin with?

So here we have Lily (Cailee Spaeny) — a sort of Ellen Page stand-in — who moves to a new town with her mom, played by Michelle Monoghan, so they can live with mom's new beau (played with a Shar-Pei naturalness by David Duchovny). Being the sort of gender-neutral gal she is, Lily has a rough first day when bad boy Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine) calls her out for getting her period in class.

Three girls come to the rescue: The loudmouthed, brash Frankie (Gideon Adlon), "gamer" Tabby (Lovie Simone), and the glamorous Lourdes (trans Latina actress Zoey Luna). They befriend Lily, especially when they catch her revealing some startlingly remarkable powers when she defends herself from a douchebag classmate.

This is when the trio realizes that Lily might be the "fourth" they have been looking for — the fourth for their coven. They are witches, you see, but exactly how they developed their powers or learned how to do anything, is never explained. Soon enough these four are literally stopping time, shooting flames from their fingertips, and throwing people across the room with just a thought. All within the first twenty minutes. Grounded, this movie is not. At least not in regarding the witches' powers.

The four do some spells and cause some drama for a particular character who tearfully reveals a secret truth about himself. Again, the message of this character is a good one, and I guess it's something teenagers watching the film should see and may identify with, but with the film running down the laundry list of political correctness and acceptance, you almost have to laugh. (I actually did.)

To reveal the big bad in the film could spoil the surprise for some, so I won't mention it here. Thankfully, it goes in a different direction than the original film, which is a nice change - but again, it's too woke for its own good. It is packaged in yet another message about another topic that just compounds the myriad of issues that have come before it.

Look, this is a CW-style watered-down update of a film people adore for a variety of reasons. It needed to either bring back the original cast, or make the new cast something to see. Instead, it's just a big ball of meh. Lister-Jones doesn't do anything super special with the direction, and there really aren't any set-pieces to remember. (Where's the witch battle on the walls? Where's the flying? I mean, they can literally stop time, but they can't soar over their town? Total bummer.)

The acting is fine, although watching the original film and this one back to back makes you wonder just why "kids today" are just so obnoxious. The giggly, screeching trio is annoying the moment you meet them, and their costume designer saddles them with clothes that look like they went crazy at a Salvation Army store and decided to wear literally everything they bought that day.

The film ends with a major set-up for a sequel, and what I assume the studio figured would be the big cheer of excitement in the last shot. Alas, this OnDemand release will be passing time over people's televisions and then quickly forgotten. Cast a spell, it will not. "The Craft" will forever be a zippy, campy little classic. It's "Legacy" will die out soon enough.

"The Craft: Legacy" is COMING TO BLU-RAY™ AND DVD DECEMBER 22.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.

Comments on Facebook