The Craft: Legacy

Just like Sarah Bailey some twenty-five years earlier, Lily (Cailee Spaeny, "On the Basis of Sex") arrives in a new town with her mom (Michelle Monaghan) to move into the home of the man Eunice is set to marry, Adam Harrison (David Duchovny), netting Lily three stepbrothers in the bargain.  But they are no help during a particularly embarrassing episode on Lily’s first day in her new high school.  Instead she is rescued by Frankie (Gideon Adlon, "Blockers," "The Mustang"), Tabby (Lovie Simone, "Selah and the Spades") and Lourdes (Zoey Luna), three witches looking for a fourth to form a coven who have lucked into one more powerful than they’d imagined in “The Craft: Legacy.”

Laura's Review: B+

Writer/director Zoe Lister-Jones, who many may know as Colin Hanks’ wife from the TV sitcom ‘Life in Pieces,’ broke into filmmaking with an all female crew and her charming marital musical indie "Band Aid."  Now she tackles a sequel to a 90’s cult classic for a big studio with a mostly female crew and damn, this woman knows what she’s doing.  With “The Craft: Legacy” Lister-Jones has developed a story outline which follows the themes of the first – friendship, female empowerment, how working outside of established norms can have a destabilizing effect and how power corrupts – and adds additional new layers of gender and sexual orientation fluidity and how those threaten the patriarchy (one, it should be noted, that has been given a distinctly Biblical slant).  While not all of her four witches make equally strong impressions, Spaeny is perfect as the androgynous new girl in town and Adlon steals every scene she is in, her Frankie styled as an amusingly confrontational Jersey Shore spell caster.

As the three witches realize they really need representation for their fourth corner in order to succeed, Eunice and Lily, their Witch of the West, are barreling towards them singing along to Alanis Morrisette.  But something troubling happens the instant a man enters the picture - as Lily approaches her stepdad-to-be’s house, a snake crosses her path.

But the film’s first act has a teenaged girl’s bounce to its step, its troubling nod to “Carrie” quickly course corrected with the joy of successfully casting a spell (using a bong as a ‘cauldron’) on Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine), who begins to champion kindness and LGBTQ rights in class.  ‘Woke Timmy’ happens to be the best friend of middle brother Jacob Harrrison (Charles Vandervaart), a hunky duo for two witches, Lily and Frankie, to crush on.

The film’s tone turns deadly serious when Lily is nastily chastised by Adam, then witnesses him lead an all male circle including his sons, eldest Isaiah (Donald MacLean Jr.) and youngest Abraham (Julien Grey), talking about power’s equivalency to order and the necessity of culling the weak.  A game of three truths among the girls elicits a startling revelation from Timmy and a surprising reaction from Lily, one which will have major repercussions, the first of which the witches hear announced at school.

Lister-Jones has written a devilishly clever script, one full of all manner of rich detail and references from “Twilight” to two generations of female pop.  (Her cinematic inspirations even include Sergio Leone Westerns.)  Those who’ve seen the trailer will have noted the presence of the original film’s Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk) seen in a photograph, so it is no spoiler to mention that the film is called “Legacy” for a reason.  There has been a spate, of late, of unexpected sequels appearing decades after the prior film, most recently “Bad Boys for Life” and “Bill & Ted Face the Music.”  “The Craft: Legacy” is one of the best of the bunch.

Robin's Review: B

Lily (Cailee Spaeny) and her mom (Michelle Monaghan) are starting a new life in a new town with mom’s new husband, Adam (David Duchovny). When the teen attends her first day of school, it does not go well on several levels. But then she makes three new friends (Zoey Luna, Lovie Simone and Hannah Gordon) who invite the kindred spirit to join them in “The Craft: Legacy.”

Three teen girls sit in a circle and perform a summoning spell, but it fails. They know that they need another to make the four points of the compass and complete the circle if they are to fulfill their supernatural dreams. Enter Lily who, on her first school day, gets her first period and is both shamed and bullied. The three recognize something special in the newcomer and take her under their wing.

Now, with the essential fourth, the quartet of wiccans begins to explore and test their newfound powers. Things change, though, as they hone their skills – telepathy and levitation and more – and things start to go very wrong. There is a lot going on here so I will not delve into the story plot.

If you remember the original “The Craft (1996),” then you will remember a story quite different from the one that writer-director Zoe Lister-Jones brings us now. That is a good thing, though, as we get something fresh and new and not just a rehash of an old story. Cailee Spaeny leads the talented ensemble and the result is a femme-empowerment story that deals with both power and the wielding of it and the responsibility that goes with it.