The Craft (15)

Directed by Andrew Fleming

Starring Fairuza Balk, Robin Tunney, Neve Campbell, Rachel True

Another American high school picture, but this is more Heathers than Clueless. New girl in school Sarah (Tunney), links up with a group of oddballs led by Nancy (Balk - all black eyeliner and hard stares). These girls aren't just wierd, they are witches, and soon Sarah is calling the corners and hanging, chanting with them.
Initially, all is light and playful, but mixing with the dark forces has its dangers, and when Sarah is told that they will get any wicked spells they cast back three fold, she begins to doubt. By this time , Nancy is into the extremes of it, and falling out with your friends takes on an added danger for the coven of pals. The film climaxes with a battle of wills and spells.
There have been some misgivings about this film in that it portrays dabbling in the black arts as a fun thing to do with your pals. Indeed, it is not the witchcraft that is wicked, but the misuse of it by Nancy. That is one way that this film differs from the superior Heathers. There was a black comedic element in Heathers, whereas this film has no real self parody to temper the wierdness. The one exception is at the very end when two of the girls come to see Sarah and ask if she'd like to get together to chant sometime. In the main this film treats its subject matter seriously.
The four girls are all good, particularly Balk and Tunney. Fairuza Balk has the flashier part with more glaring and snarling to do. Tunney is the good girl, and is appealing and attractive.
This is an enjoyable film, although the special effects are predictable - lots of snakes and bugs, lightning, levitation etc. The story is rarely predictable until the final 15 minutes, and there are a good few laughs as the girls find the way to good witch-hood.
Of course it would be a Catholic school that produced witches wouldn't it! 7/10.

November 1996

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