Starring: Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone
Director: Zoe Lister-Jones
Running Time: 97 mins
The Craft: Legacy is an American film and the sequel to The Craft. Years after the first group of friends came together and discovered magical powers, a new group of girls form a coven of witches, and use their powers to battle injustice in their lives.
I really liked The Craft, with its engrossing blend of dark fantasy and strikingly frank coming-of-age drama. Its sequel retains that dark style, boldly going for a borderline R-rated story with some very adult ideas.
However, while its predecessor told a challenging story that ultimately showed itself as a moral fable, The Craft: Legacy is a more morally dubious film, gratuitously overloading itself with different social issues of the day and ticking them off one by one as it wrestles with some very problematic themes.
First off, though, I really want to praise the way that The Craft: Legacy lives up to the dark reputation of the first film. Though perhaps not as emotionally overwhelming as its predecessor, this sequel really sticks to its guns with a dark and frank story that’s more about the characters than pure young adult fantasy.
There’s a part of me that misses some of the more action-packed fantasy sequences from the previous film, but it’s really commendable the way that this sequel commits to a bolder, darker style in a world where it could have been so easy to make a lazy rehash of the Twilight movies.
Couple that with strong performances from the film’s young lead quartet, all of whom are mature and very assured on screen throughout, and you have a film that’s a lot more than just a throwaway bit of fantasy fare.
However, I found the way that The Craft: Legacy uses its darker, thematically upfront style really problematic. The Craft told a heavy-going story about bullying and coming-of-age, and although arguably mean-spirited at times, it eventually righted itself with a strong moral message in the end.
This film, meanwhile, looks at a variety of wider social issues which are all relevant in the modern world, yet it fails to consider them in enough detail, while also failing to address the morally questionable actions of its main characters.
So there are two issues here. First is the way in which The Craft: Legacy seems to tick off mentioning various social issues almost as if it’s a ‘woke’ scorecard, without ever giving them the proper time and attention that they’re due. There are throwaway comments about trans issues, racial discrimination, female adolescence, toxic masculinity and more, but the movie does little to really address those issues beyond just including them in the story.
All of those themes are important and worthy of discussion, but this film is painfully superficial in dealing with them.
Secondly, the film’s overarching theme, that of taking on the patriarchy, is somehow used in a really morally questionable way. The film’s feminist passions are evident, and it’s great to see the way that it lends attention to the feelings of a group of young women, but it spends too much time on the attack, with a bizarre portrayal of men that comes off as incredibly mean-spirited.
In this movie, the male characters are either evil masterminds looking to dominate women, or braindead puppets controlled by the whims of women. If the film had addressed either of those portrayals by looking in on itself towards the end, then they wouldn’t be such a problem, but it’s the way it almost celebrates this erroneous portrayal of men that really doesn’t sit right with me.
For a film that’s clearly there to inspire young women and to tackle important social issues, I was really surprised by just how aggressive and superficial The Craft: Legacy was – a far cry from the engrossing character drama of its predecessor.
Overall then, I was disappointed by The Craft: Legacy. Though admirable for its retention of the bold and dark style that made its predecessor so striking, the film struggles in its use of social themes, gratuitously ticking off various issues with little regard for reality, all the while telling a story about taking on the patriarchy in really bizarre fashion. So, that’s why I’m giving the film a 6.0.