I’ve always wanted to be Fairuza Balk. We need to get that out of the way first.
From watching her in Return to Oz and The Worst Witch as a child, I grew up watching her films and The Craft came out at just the right time for me. The film itself is great but it’s Fairuza’s performance that sells it for me. That woman knows how to commit to a role!
The Craft is a supernatural story about four girls who get involved with witchcraft, take things too far and chaos ensues.
Neve Campbell, Fairuza Balk, Rachel True and Robin Tunney make up the four leads and they have great chemistry on screen.
Robin Tunney plays Sarah a new girl at a Catholic school who once tried to kill herself and has some low level natural powers. She makes friends with “The bitches of Eastwick” three outcasts. Neve Campbell is Bonnie, a quiet introverted girl whose body is covered in burn scars. Rochelle is played by Rachel True who was 30 when making The Craft, although you’d never know it, is on the swim team but is bullied by a racist girl who goes out of her way to be horrible to her. Then we have Nancy, played by Fairuza Balk. Nancy has problems at home, is despised at school and is desperate for power. She is the ringleader and exudes a real fuck you attitude.
The film had a witch consultant Pat Devin, you can read an interview with her here. It’s a really interesting read as she helped with certain aspects of the characters, sometimes they listened and changed small parts of the script, other times they were less receptive.
The Craft came under fire from certain critics who felt that the characters just didn’t ring true and that the girls motives were vapid and childish. Clearly these critics have never been 15 year old girls. The Craft is about magic, revenge and teenage angst. Having been bullied a lot throughout my school years I really understood where these girls were coming from. It rang true to me.
I like to watch The Craft every couple of years to see if it still stands up and by and large it does. Directed by Andrew Fleming, an openly gay director who was able to tap into the feeling of isolation that only an outcast teenager can know.The film has a large gay following, which is unsurprising considering there are quite a few scenes that have a gay subtext.
The film does a great job of showing the best and worst sides of friendship. When the girls get along they’re caring and supportive but when cracks start to show it see you how fickle teenage friendships can be.
There are some genuinely creepy or rather atmospheric moments in the film, I especially love the scene where after invoking the spirit of Manon Nancy is seen walking on the surface of the ocean. The effects are dated somewhat but it’s still a great moment.
Sadly there is something I don’t like. One of the most problematic scenes for me comes late in the film.
Early in the film new girl Sarah goes on a date with the school stud Chris (played by Skeet Ulrich, Never Campbell’s co-star in Scream which came out the same year as The Craft) who starts a rumour that they slept together. Despite this shitty move Sarah still likes the guy and when the girls perform their coven ritual and each casts a spell, Sarah says “I drink of my sisters and I ask for the ability to love myself more and be loved more by others. Especially Chris Hooker”. The love spell seems to work, at first.
Overnight Chris becomes besotted with Sarah and she takes full advantage of this and has some fun getting him to carry her books and to sit with her instead of his friends but it soon becomes tiring. All she wanted was a little attention from ‘the hot guy’ but his obsession with Sarah turns into something ugly and he tries to rape her.
When Nancy finds out, Chris is in for a world of pain and once swift and brutal revenge has been exacted Sarah says that she thinks ‘Chris was a good guy underneath it all’ – WHAT?! He was a douchebag from the minute he met Sarah and as if that sentence wasn’t bad enough there’s an implication that she brought this on herself due to her spell. Not cool.
A SHARED FACT: Robin Tunney wore an orange-blond wig throughout filming because she had shaved her head for her role in Empire Records (1995) which wrapped up filming only a month before production on this movie began.