Full disclosure, I have never seen the original 1996 “The Craft” that is this film predecessor. That wasn’t by choice, but it was something that never really grabbed my attention even with the cult following it garnered over the years. Going into “The Craft: Legacy," I went in with no sort of preconceived notions in terms of what I was expecting. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised at the fun I had with this sequel. The story follows Lily (Caliee Spaeny) moving into the home of her mom’s boyfriend Adam (David Duchovny) and his three sons. This leads her to start a new school which lets her find three friends Tabby (Lovie Simone), Ashley (Hannah Gordon) and Frankie (Gideon Adlon). If you’ve seen the original, you know that this coven or “friendship” definitely goes through some trials and tribulations.
Most people may know actor/director Zoe Lister-Jones from her supporting role on “New Girl,” but she definitely has an eye for directing. Marking her second feature after the underseen, but enjoyable music comedy “Band-Aid,” this shows Jones’s talent as a filmmaker. She has a great understanding of this millennial and Gen Z culture that is prominently on display, and as the screenwriter, she captures a great sensibility into how this high school generation speaks. Even if you find terms like “we stan” to be, well, obnoxious there’s no denying that they have a place in the culture. This idea makes its case and shows that a clear understanding has been made in order for this story to be modernized. There are definitely some themes such as identity and sexuality that feel very 2020 and would’ve certainly never flown well in the 90s. Such an ample hand is given to these ideas, that it really caught me off guard in a great way.
Where the film really falters is in the setup throughout the entire first act when we really want to learn about these characters. We’re plunged into the deep end with these witches, without a clear understanding of how we got there. Add on top of that Lily’s quick grasp of these complex spells and incantations, it feels like it's rushing to its finale—which admittedly frustrated me since I wanted to spend more time with this fine group of actors. Once their banter starts, it doesn’t let up. It just goes to show that the actors assembled here really sell the modernized teen aspects. There is just a rather prominent notice of trying too hard to be modern and for this generation.
It makes for an overall muddled experience wrapped up in a rather glossy and quite entertaining package. With more modern musical queues and a synthetic-like score, it makes the world feel lived in. Something like that in a movie with a more fantastical premise can be rather hard to accomplish, but here that’s not the case. The magic doesn’t feel like a tacked-on element but a seamless integration. It’s rather cool to see the difference between realism and fantasy which is a unique blend.
If you want a bit of after credit “shawarma,” be sure to stick around as there’s something that will certainly make fans of the original “Craft” cheer. If you’re like me, you may not necessarily get the same response with not preconceived love of the original. On its own merits, “The Craft: Legacy” is fun with some really entertaining lead performances. Is it something I can recommend for a rental price of $19.99? No, not necessarily. Though when it makes its way to smaller streaming platforms it's a lot of fun. Certainly not a perfect film, but one that could scratch the right itch for the spooky season.