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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

[Review] ‘The Craft: Legacy’ Invokes a Mixed Bag of Spells

For anyone who grew up with 1996’s The Craft, especially young women, it became a formative film. It wasn’t just that the four teens dabbled with witchcraft that gave them the power to have some control over their lives, but that it made being an outcast or weirdo in high school a little less lonely. That it’d grown into a cult classic meant an instant balking at the very notion of a remake or reboot. With The Craft: Legacy, writer/director Zoe Lister-Jones sought to honor the seminal ‘90s film while giving a modern spin on a young teen coven and the volatile nature of magick. Her emphasis on characters over story delivers a mixed bag.

Cailee Spaeny leads as Lily, a shy teen whose life is uprooted when her single mother (Michelle Monaghan) moves them across the country to be with her new man (David Duchovny). As if it wasn’t awkward enough, her new stepdad has three teen boys of his own. Her stepbrothers aren’t so welcoming, and Lily’s first day at school leaves her sobbing alone in a bathroom stall. Outcasts Lourdes (Zoey Luna), Tabby (Lovie Simone), and Frankie (Gideon Adlon) reach out with a kind gesture, and it comes with the realization that Lily might make for the perfect fourth member of their coven. Of course, the more they grow into their budding power, the more they realize it comes with great responsibility as spells spiral out of their control.

Refreshingly, it becomes apparent straight away that Lister-Jones isn’t interested in following the same path as the first film. It’s also clear that the trailer is a little misleading. Where power corrupted and shattered the bonds in The Craft, it’s approached with much more care and thought in Legacy. The bonds of this new coven’s friendships were built on sturdier ground; these girls are genuinely nice without an ounce of cattiness in their bones. They do face in-fighting as their situation grows precarious, but Lister-Jones instead wants to demonstrate what young women can accomplish when united. It’s what keeps Legacy so engaging; it’s clear there’s something extraordinary going on in Lily’s new home and how that plays out is satisfying.

Conversely, Lister-Jones is so reticent to drive her young witches apart while keeping an external threat a mystery that there’s no real conflict for much of the runtime. There are hints at a more extensive, dark force at play, but they’re never expanded upon in any tangible way. That it becomes apparent pretty early on who’s team good and who’s not makes it a strange choice to play it so close to the vest. By the time the climax kicks off, it’s so visually sparse and oversimplified that it makes for a lackluster finish.

As its name implies, Legacy is a continuation, albeit in a tacked-on sort of way. There are nods to the original film throughout, some overt lifts of the iconic moments, and some more hidden Easter eggs, but Lily’s story is directly connected. Though its somber implications are, frustratingly, left dangling, perhaps as a potential setup for a sequel.

The foursome behind the new coven is charming. The characters feel like real teens. Spaeny is a compelling lead that imbues Lily with an instantly endearing vulnerability. It’s through the friendship between the young leads where Legacy shines the brightest, but Lister-Jones seems to struggle everywhere else. Including creating a central antagonist whose intriguing methods are only teased in fleeting images and a tame finale. It may not win over the generation that grew up with the 1996 film, but the coven in Legacy is likely aspirational and affable enough to reel in the new generation for which this was made.

The Craft: Legacy releases on VOD on October 28, 2020.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3638515/review-the-craft-legacy-conjures-mixed-bag-spells/

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