The Craft: Legacy (3 stars)

The Craft: Legacy

Zoe Lister-Jones delivers likeable witches in this flawed, but far from horrific follow-up

This belated follow-up to 1996's The Craft is a bit of a puzzler. The original is hardly an untouchable classic so, in theory, a sequel needn't fear failing, but it's become something of a cult favourite over the years and is a quintessential 90s teen movie, for better and worse – watching it back may inspire as much cringing as it does nostalgia. Although set in the modern day, The Craft: Legacy riffs appealingly on 90s fashion and follows a similar story arc, making it feel, at first, like a reimagining, though a late in the game reveal confirms it exists in the same universe.

Zoe Lister-Jones is the filmmaker here (the director of Band Aid, she's best known as an actress) and despite the initial narrative similarities, to her credit, she does make the material her own. The talented Cailee Spaeny (Devs, Bad Times at the El Royale) plays Lily, a shy teenager arriving in a new town with her lovestruck mom Helen (Michelle Monaghan), who has hastily agreed to move in with her apparently affable squeeze Adam (David Duchovny), who already has three sons. Following a humiliating incident at her new school involving her period, Lily befriends a trio of fledgling witches, played by Gideon Adlon, Zoey Luna and Lovie Simone, becoming their much-needed 'fourth'.

The Craft: Legacy is being heavily sold as a Blumhouse production, which is of course technically true, albeit highly misleading, as there's almost no horror on offer. Lister-Jones opts for a soft, far from forbidding aesthetic and, for a time at least, an indie sensibility. She cultivates a keener sense of solidarity between the girls, in what at first feels like quite a loose, laidback and appealing film, as we're allowed to revel in their powers and friendship – the creaking and chanting of Heather Christian's score is quite nicely done too. The girls are very well cast – also the strength of the original – but as individuals they are less distinct, here they form more of an unshakeable unit.

When the film is required to hit some serious narrative beats, however, it does so in a way that feels rushed and unsatisfying. There's commentary on masculinity in crisis – mainly via Duchovny's character – and some amusing and disconcerting stuff involving a bully becoming his best, most woke self, which brings it bang up to date, yet its critiques aren't always well incorporated and there are interesting angles in the blended family which go unexplored. Fans of the first film may be disappointed, but if you cast your expectations to one side there's enough to enjoy; these witches are certainly less bitchy, making it a coven you might actually want to join.

Available to watch in cinemas now.

The Craft: Legacy

  • 3 stars
  • 2020
  • US
  • 1h 37min
  • Directed by: Zoe Lister-Jones
  • Cast: Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, Zoey Luna, Michelle Monaghan, David Duchovny
  • UK release: 28 October 2020

Sequel to the 1996 film about young witches.