The Craft (1996)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror, Teen Movie  |   Release Date - May 3, 1996 (USA), May 3, 1996 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Making explicit or implicit reference to every vaguely woman-oriented sci-fi and horror flick from Season of the Witch and The Stepford Wives to Carrie and Witches of Eastwick, this popular but uneven pastiche served up reheated ideas with a (bad) alt-rock soundtrack and lots of gothic trappings. Writer/director Andrew Fleming, who made The Craft in-between the polymorphously perverse Threesome and the witty '70s memento Dick, clearly knows how to get inside young characters' heads, but he isn't competent enough with his actors or his dialogue here to coax solid performances from any of his leads. Star Robin Tunney seems incapable of delivering a believable reaction shot, much less generating bruised sympathy as the nightmare-plagued Sarah. The usually reliable Fairuza Balk often lets her elfin features and her black eyeliner (over) act for her. Rachel True is a virtual cypher as the woefully underwritten Rochelle, showing only flashes of wicked glee she would bring to Gregg Araki's Nowhere. Only Neve Campbell, as burn victim Bonnie, gets to really strut her stuff, moving from bitter introversion to trampy sex appeal and working in at least one really good scream. Despite these shortcomings, The Craft is eminently watchable in a trashy, B-movie kind of way. Its wish-fulfillment story line, brisk pace, and frugally expressive special effects keep things interesting even when the performances disappoint.