Welcome to the Witching Hour
Plot: A newcomer to a Catholic prep high school falls in with a trio of outcast teenage girls who practise witchcraft, and they all soon conjure up various spells and curses against those who anger them.
Director: Andrew Fleming
Released: November 1996
When The Craft came out it had an appealing idea. A coven of teenage witches uses magic to make their lives better and improve their social standing. It’s an idea that at the time was fresh, the possibilities were endless and felt like a postmodern spin on witchcraft and moving away from the stereotypical view on witches we had seen previously.
Made up of Nancy (Balk), the Goth. Bonnie (Campbell), the girl with the burn marks, Rochelle (True), the Black girl dealing with racism and Sarah ( Tunney), the new girl in school who helps complete the coven and start trying out some spells.
What I liked about the film is that each of the four feel and their motivations feel fleshed enough that you don’t mind when the film slows down in the middle to follow Sarah as she takes revenge on a boy who humiliated her, Nancy while kills her abusive father, Bonnie cures her scars and Rochelle punishes a racist blonde girl. With the time devoted to each character making the consequences for each girls actions hit home more than they would if we had only followed Sarah.
Tunney provides a smart performance as she discovers her power and she cycles through the joy of making new friends, the fun of using magic and horror at what she and her friends have become.
As for the rest of the group, its Balk that shines brightest. Her turn as Nancy the leader of the group decked out in white makeup, jet-black hair and nose-ring is entertaining and helps push the plot along as she almost forces the group to do bigger and riskier spells. She is given by far the most to do and ends up with the most interesting character arc as her lust of power gives in to temptation and she starts to lose grip of right and wrong.
Sadly the end of the film also doesn’t feel as complete as it could have been, with the final showdown fizzling out and all but Nancies character arc’s feeling a little incomplete, which might be down to the studio leaving things open for a potential sequel. Another element of the film that I feel The Craft underutilizes is the backdrop of the girl’s catholic high school, with the clash of ideologies and religion avoided entirely. That to me feels like a missed opportunity to give the film a bigger message than most other teen horror-comedies.
Despite these flaws, The Craft is definitely one of the better teen horror movies of the ’90s, showing a true understanding of the 90s pop culture and enough of the horror conventions of the time to be solid in both genres. It’s not Lost Boys but still, it’s one of the good ones.
If you liked: Clueless, Fight Night, The Faculty