As a teenager, there were a handful of films that were essential to me during those tumultuous years, with Andrew Fleming’s The Craft being one of movies that I watched the most when I was in high school and in college. Being someone who still considers The Craft to be one of the most iconic and influential genre movies to come out during the 1990s, I was pretty curious about what The Craft: Legacy was going to bring to the table after all these years. And while I wouldn’t say that it is a perfect outing by any means, there’s still a lot to appreciate about what writer/director Zoe Lister-Jones achieves with Legacy, delivering up a light-hearted examination of teen culture in contemporary society that also thoughtfully explores gender dynamics. Plus, it was also nice to see a female-centric film that didn’t have its dramatic arc revolve around a huge fight between these young women.
I’m not sure how long-time fans of The Craft will feel about Legacy, but it has the potential to be an influential experience for a new generation of outcasts out there just looking for a filmic experience like this one.
The Craft: Legacy begins with Lily (Cailee Spaeny) and her mom Helen (Michelle Monaghan) on the road, loudly singing along to Alanis Morissette’s “One Hand in My Pocket” (a fun nod to the time period of the OG Craft) as they are making their way to their new home, which happens to be with Helen’s boyfriend Adam (David Duchovny) and his three sons. For Lily, the struggle to fit in extends beyond her male-dominated new domicile, as she’s immediately treated like an outcast by her fellow peers after an unfortunate period-related accident on her first day leaves her feeling totally humiliated. But not everyone in school is ready to dump all over poor Lily. There’s a tight-knit group of witches – Frankie (Gideon Adlon), Lourdes (Zoey Luna), and Tabby (Lovie Simone) – who immediately can sense a power within Lily, and they invite her to join their coven to be their fourth. And as the girls bond, their powers and friendship grow stronger, until an unfortunate incident causes them to question their powers and a sinister presence swoops in, threatening to destroy them all.
As someone who still regularly watches The Craft, I’d say that Legacy is a worthy follow-up, but it is far tamer than its predecessor in a variety of ways. That doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. It’s just that The Craft: Legacy has a much different agenda than the first movie (which is a good thing), and as a result, the character interactions are a lot different here, and part of the fun of the original came from the eventual attitude changes that we saw in those characters. Legacy is more focused on a sense of sisterhood, and uplifting others, which is definitely something I appreciate about it, because that’s what makes it unique. Lister-Jones isn’t looking to do a retread at all, and it’s unfortunate that having a core group of girl friends who aren’t in conflict with each other is such a revelatory concept for movie characters these days, but that’s just the way things are.
That being said, there were some aspects to The Craft: Legacy that didn’t really gel for me. I enjoyed all of the girls’ performances, but admittedly, there’s no real character development that happens with any of them throughout Legacy, which makes them feel a bit static as a whole. In fact, the character who has the most fulfilling story arc in Legacy is Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine), a bully who the ladies decide to cast a spell on to teach him a lesson, and the results of their magical endeavor are most unexpected. Timmy’s story ends up feeling like the most emotionally riveting aspect of the narrative, and I wish that the women at the heart of the sequel were given that kind of care, too.
In comparison to everything that precedes it, The Craft: Legacy’s climax also feels a bit rushed. Everything quickly builds to this ultimate showdown, which should be this huge moment in the film, but it all breezes right by rather quickly and before I knew it, everything was over. I do wish that Lister-Jones had taken some time here to allow the dramatic elements a chance to breathe during that entire sequence, which would have allowed the finale to land a bit more emphatically. The scene that follows Legacy’s climax sequence totally rules though, and it definitely makes up for how slight it ended up feeling.
But as a whole, The Craft: Legacy is still a lovely endeavor by Lister-Jones that feels like an essential cinematic moment for today’s teens. As a sequel, it gets far more right than it gets wrong and I love that, in spirit, it feels right in line with the original film. It definitely sets out to do it’s own thing here, which I really appreciated, and it does all this while delivering an empowering message for a new generation of outcasts.
Movie Score: 3/5