‘The Craft: Legacy: Woke Witches Inspire a New Generation of Outcast Teens
Almost a quarter century after “The Craft” spoke to a generation of alternative girls, a new coven of outcasts comes into its own in “The Craft: Legacy.” This Jason Blum-produced stand-alone sequel to the 1996 cult classic was written and directed by one such woman who was influenced by the original during her adolescence, Zoe Lister-Jones. Despite being an accomplished actor with an array of film and television credits under her belt, Lister-Jones stays behind the camera for her second feature as a director (her first was the musical dramedy “Band-Aid”), giving the spotlight to an ensemble of talented young actors led by Cailee Spaeny.
Spaeny stars as Lily, a high schooler who starts a new chapter when she moves with her mother, Helen (Michelle Monaghan), into the home of her mother’s boyfriend, motival speaker Adam (David Duchovny). Early on, Helen, a therapist, reminds her shy and sensitive daughter that her “difference is her strength,” but there’s no avoiding the challenges in her new life. Not only does she have to adjust to living with controlling Adam and his three teen sons, Isaiah (Donald MacLean Jr.), Jacob (Charles Vandervaart), and Abe (Julian Grey), but she also has to deal with a new school. On her first day, she experiences every young woman’s worst nightmare when she gets her period and bleeds through her jeans in front of her new classmates. The boys all have a laugh, especially Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine), a cruel bully.
Fortunately, a trio of female classmates come to Lily’s aid, three aspiring witches who are first introduced in the opening scene attempting to cast a spell. They are drawn to Lily because they correctly sense that she is the fourth they need to complete their coven in order to make magic. Soon, the former loner is paling around and casting spells with these ladies, who are funny Frankie (Gideon Adlon), fiery Tabby (Lovie Simone), and grounded Lourdes (talented trans actress Zoey Luna making her feature debut). Unlike in the original film, in which each one of the four main female characters had her own individual challenge to deal with, Lister-Jones fails to dig deep enough when it comes to Lily’s cohorts.
But the sisterhood is stronger this time. While the young women in the previous film quickly turned on each other after one of them abused her newfound powers and became antagonistic, the ones here are more supportive and encouraging of each other. Overall, “Legacy” is lighter in tone, and the girls don’t face any real consequences until about two-thirds of the way in. It’s especially amusing to see the way the young witches use their power to neutralize Timmy by casting a spell that makes him super woke. However, things take a turn after Lily finds herself catching feelings for the new and improved Timmy, who ends up baring his soul to the coven in an emotional scene.
Meanwhile, something sinister is happening in Lily’s new home, and Lister-Jones does a good job of building tension on the homefront. As for Duchovny, he has the rare opportunity to showcase his darker side, and he rises to the challenge, while Spaeny holds her own against him. The story culminates in a twist that, while hardly shocking, is satisfying to fans of the original film, and the final moments do not fail to leave the viewer excited for a possible sequel.
“The Craft: Legacy” releases Oct. 28 on VOD.