Horror remakes aren’t always a bad idea. In some cases, movies don’t age well. Either the effects (or the movie’s story itself) become dated. Sometimes good ideas get lost in bad movies. And occasionally, a filmmaker comes along with a new twist on an old idea. Gore Verbinski’s update of Ringu added interesting subtext alongside excellent scares. Though it’s not perfect, the Suspiria remake had several layers of interesting storytelling. And let’s not forget that John Carpenter’s The Thing was a remake. Despite horror fans’ love for The Craft, critics were less enthusiastic about it in 1996. Like it or not, The Craft was not off-limits for the remake treatment. So whether we wanted it or not, The Craft Legacy exists with clear ambitions for a franchise.
When her mother remarries, Lily finds herself moving to a new home and starting at a new school. After an embarrassing mishap in her first class, Lily meets and bonds with three of her classmates – who also happen to be aspiring witches. Frankie, Tabby, and Lourdes believe Lily is the fourth witch they need to close their coven. But what starts as an exciting journey of magic and self-discovery soon turns deadly.
The Craft Legacy Adapts Story Into Supernatural Tale of Sisterhood .and Power Minus the Scares
In general, The Craft Legacy follows the plot and setup of its predecessor. Whether it’s the opening credits or the ‘magical discovery of powers’ montage, writer and director Zoe Lister-Jones initially looks to follow the source material religiously. And while there are homages to The Craft (“We are the weirdos, mister’), Lister-Jones changes things up where it counts. That is, she puts a distinct Generation-Z spin on the story. The Craft Legacy shifts its conflict from the coven and the corruption of power to an outside threat – the patriarchy. Like the Black Christmas remake, The Craft Legacy is very much about men trying to steal women’s power and, to a lesser extent, consent. Here, Lister-Jones celebrates female empowerment.
True, The Craft Legacy is – and was clearly intended to be- a PG-13 horror movie for a younger audience. But the scares and suspense are noticeably sparse.
Yet whereas Black Christmas still navigated the genre quite well, The Craft Legacy falters as a horror movie. On one hand, Lister-Jones seems less comfortable with the movie’s horror elements. True, The Craft Legacy is – and was clearly intended to be- a PG-13 horror movie for a younger audience. But the scares and suspense are noticeably sparse. In part this is also a problem with pacing and the absence of a clear threat for much of the movie. Once The Craft Legacy hits its middle act the story drifts. Though Lister-Jones offers occasional hints as to where the movie’s true danger lies, they’re too few and far between. Without a villain to fight, the movie works better as a coming-of-age tale rather than even a light horror movie.
The Craft Legacy Puts a Gen-Z Twist on Its Soundtrack and Witches
To be fair, critics didn’t initially heap a lot of praise on The Craft in 1996. What’s add to that movie’s enduring popularity was its cast and decade-defining soundtrack. Drawing comparisons between the 1996 and 2020 cast is unfair and unnecessary. Young viewers will likely relate to this cast, the dialogue, and celebration of difference and inclusivity. As ‘Lily’, Cailee Spaeny more than capably fills in for Robin Tunney’s main protagonist. Her supporting cast are charming and likable with clear chemistry between the coven’s ‘sisters’. Neither Michelle Monghan nor David Duchovny have much to do. In particular, Duchovny seems miscast in his role. However, The Craft Legacy also keeps Duchovny offscreen a little too much given his later importance to the story.
Young viewers will likely relate to this cast, the dialogue, and celebration of difference and inclusivity.
When The Craft was released in 1996, it soundtrack collected some of the biggest alternative rock bands of the era. As a middle-aged horror fan, I’ll profess a preference the original movie’s soundtrack. But I’m also biased. This time around, The Craft Legacy’s soundtrack seems like a more thoughtfully compiled collection. Most of the tracks feature female artists including Alanis Morissette, Sharon, Van Etten, and. Princess Nokia. It’s a soundtrack that is very much in keeping with the story Lister-Jones wants to tell.
The Craft Legacy Will Appeal To Gen-Z Horror Fans
Perhaps critics and fans were too harsh on The Craft Legacy. As far as remakes go, Lister-Jones does what one should when re-envisioning well-loved source material. Rather than re-hashing the original, Lister-Jones finds a new thematic lens for the story. Both movies are products of the their time. Though Lister-Jones fails with the remake’s horror elements, she tells an admirable story of sisterhood and power for Gen-Z audiences. In all likelihood, The Craft Legacy wasn’t intended for middle-aged horror fans. But flawed as it may be, The Craft Legacy may appeal to younger fans just getting their feet wet in the horror genre. Whether the movie’s final twist earns Blumhouse Productions the sequel it wants, however, remains to be seen.
THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: B-