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’The Craft: Legacy’ Review: Dir. Zoe Lister-Jones (2020)

Now available worldwide.

In 1996, one of the best films aimed at teenage girls, The Craft, was released. The film followed a group of outcasts who turned to witchcraft to stop those that wronged them. It’s a perfectly nineties movie, and one that is beloved by a generation. Now almost fifteen years later comes a sequel in the form of Zoe Lister-Jones’ The Craft: Legacy. Lily (Cailee Spaeny) and her mum Helen (Michelle Monaghan) relocate to live with Helen’s new boyfriend, and father of three sons, Adam (David Duchovny). After her first day ends in embarrassment, Lily finds herself taken in by a trio of girls: Frankie (Gideon Adlon), Tabby (Lovie Simone) and Lourdes (Zoey Luna). Her new friends reveal themselves to be practicing witches and implore Lily to join them to complete their circle. Once Lily is initiated, the foursome find themselves capable of all kinds of magic and decide to use their newfound powers to teach the school bully, Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine), a thing or two about being a jerk. 

The opening five minutes could almost be a shot-for-shot remake, opening with an overhead shot of candles and magical paraphernalia, cutting to clouds before jumping to a moving house scene complete with snake. Thankfully, from then on the film relaxes into itself and, barring the occasional retread of dialogue, restrains itself to more subtle instances of homages. Those that treasure the first film will find plenty of nods to the original, and there may even be a more direct link if you have some patience. 

Despite seasoning itself with little Easter eggs and nuggets for older fans, The Craft: Legacy is very much for females of an entirely different generation. The Catholic school setting and Goth girl aesthetics have gone in favour of a regular public school and more teen-friendly fashions. But it’s messages are also very different. Whereas in The Craft, the girls eventually turned on one another, here our group is more harmonious and wants to work together to empower and support one another. It’s a fantastic message to be putting out there for young women to watch as we’ve been brought up to see other females as a threat for far too long. This is very much a story about sisterhood and about women sticking together to take on the patriarchal overlords of society. It’s a very topical subject in the light of the #MeToo movement and thankfully comes off better than last year’s Black Christmas. That’s not to say that the message has a full impact, there’s a few missteps during the climax, including some ill placed music beds that make the moments come off as laughably silly. 

What made The Craft so good, and where Legacy falters, is that it actually took the time to build backstories for all of the members of the circle, not just Sarah. Granted these were fairly one-dimensional – a girl with a disfigurement, a victim of racial abuse, and someone on the poverty line – but at least we knew something of them. This time around we know next to nothing about any of them. In fact, outside of the initial introduction, we barely even hear Tabby and Lourdes referred to by name. Of the three original coven members, it is only Frankie who we are given any information on and it’s super basic; we know the boy she has a crush on and that she’s self-conscious about how she looks. Even Lily, who is essentially this film’s Sarah, isn’t given much to work with. Instead, it is Timmy who is given the biggest chunk of story and character development. He’s the school bully when we first meet him, but after our witches cast a spell on him to get in touch with his higher self, he is radically transformed. He’s suddenly a pro-female and pro-equality cisgender male, and begins to work his way into the girl’s affections. For a film that seems to be heavily pushing the empowered young girls angle, it seems odd that the most developed character would be male. This decision feels at odds with what the rest of the film is trying to do. 

The film also suffers from a distinct lack of magic. The first twenty minutes have plenty, with several montage sequences showing the girls bonding whilst practicing spells, but then the tone shifts into a much more serious affair. Magic takes a backseat to a chunk of teen drama and is only brought back as the climax approaches. It’s a shame as magic is obviously the main draw of the film. Witches on film have long been a tricky supernatural being to fully realise, and by striking out so far on it’s own, The Craft: Legacy completely bypasses what made The Craft so bewitching. 

The Craft: Legacy is now available worldwide.

The Craft: Legacy

Kat Hughes

The Craft: Legacy


A solidly made, if not rather generically bland, tale of witchcraft and teen angst for Generation Z.


Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.


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