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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 27.78%
Just Average: 23.61%
Pretty Crappy: 5.56%
Sucks: 13.89%

3 reviews, 54 user ratings

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Craft, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Appealing cast, plastic script."
3 stars

Witchcraft movies tend to be an uneasy mix of female empowerment and punitive moralizing. The fun comes from watching put-upon women testing their new powers, and yet the subtext seems to be: See, gals, you messed around with the supernatural and it got out of hand -- you invoked an evil spirit or you caught Jack Nicholson's demonic eye, whatever. Few such movies (except maybe George A. Romero's superb, obscure 'Jack's Wife') escape this paradox, which appears to derive from fear of female power.

The Craft, which I might as well go ahead and nickname Carrie Meets Heathers, is no exception. Four misfits in a Los Angeles Catholic high school -- new girl Sarah (Robin Tunney), punkish Nancy (Fairuza Balk), African-American Rochelle (Rachel True), and burn-scarred Bonnie (Neve Campbell) -- form a coven, and for a while they enjoy bonding and being "wicked" and casting spells. Not for long, though. The story is by Peter Filardi, who co-wrote the script with director Andrew Fleming (Threesome). Filardi, who also wrote Flatliners, must have a thing about young people who mess with the unknown. Too bad he doesn't also have a thing about snappy dialogue or complex characters. And Fleming, who made his horror debut with 1988's Freddy Krueger rip-off Bad Dreams, doesn't have the dark, lyrical touch the material cries out for; he pushes too hard and frames everything TV-style.

The Craft turns into a war between the decent Sarah and the gradually amoral Nancy, who can't resist misusing the powers given to her by the spirit she invokes. The other two are more intriguing characters but get less screen time. Bonnie's scars vanish, and she turns into a snob overnight. And Rochelle puts a curse on a bleached-blonde Heather-type racist, played by Christine Taylor, who tossed her hair so accurately as Marcia in The Brady Bunch Movie. Taylor's casting here turns out to be The Craft's wittiest joke -- Jan Brady would love it.

The script is just connect-the-dots -- far sketchier than such potentially rich material deserves. But the actresses work their own magic. Campbell (of TV's Party of Five) and True are skilled at suggesting many girls' reflexive self-hatred, and the freckled Tunney, whose dialogue all sounds ad-libbed even if it isn't, creates an honorable young woman of integrity. And then there's Fairuza Balk. Since her debut as Dorothy in 1985's neglected gem Return to Oz (rent it now!), Balk has matured into a sparkly hellcat of an actress. She was funny and touching as a street ragamuffin in the recent Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, and the best reason to see The Craft is to watch this former Dorothy become the Wicked Witch of the West Coast. When she's floating and grinning, she's pure riot-grrl id -- an unholy mix of Courtney Love and Linda Blair.

'The Craft' may ultimately depend on Screenwriting 101 sleight-of-hand, but this coven of actresses -- especially Fairuza Balk, whose stardom is a decade overdue -- can turn warmed-over horror soup into a real witches' brew.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=574&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/25/07 23:54:04
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User Comments

1/06/13 Kennan I just saw this for the first time a few days ago and LOVED it. 5 stars
12/10/12 Lisa One of my favourite movies! 5 stars
4/13/11 art i take back my previous review[from last year],this is a GRAND FABLE! 5 stars
6/21/10 Sarah The best film about witchcraft I've seen. 5 stars
5/17/10 art ONLY A SICKO WOULD LIKE THIS! 1 stars
1/05/09 the dork knight How odd. Faiuza Balk looks hot even though I normally find her hideous. 3 stars
10/07/08 Shaun Wallner I really enjoyed this film. 5 stars
2/17/08 art i think the girl's were ON DRUG"S 2 stars
1/09/07 johnnyfog I hate you so much Robin Tierney. Catch it just to see Fairuza! 3 stars
10/25/06 yasday skppity do da daye 3 stars
9/15/06 Tracy Not true of witches at all... I am pagan myself and this film, alhough good, is false 2 stars
6/04/06 misty great 5 stars
12/04/05 cody a good witch movie, good visual effects and story, bad ending 3 stars
10/26/05 Nectar_of_the_tards I dug it!!! 4 stars
9/26/05 tatum Cute girl cast, but highly overrated 3 stars
8/18/05 ES Rebecca- a one sentence kinda gal, but she's right in one way, this movie is crap 1 stars
7/17/05 Rebecca Continuing the "Nature religions MUST be the devil's work" ideal. Would rather be blind. 1 stars
3/09/05 Gray I know multiple Wiccans that hate this movie 1 stars
11/07/04 Andrea I loved it and i want to own it 5 stars
6/30/04 Ashley Awesome 5 stars
5/21/04 Franky Farquharson Awesome. So true to the real thing 5 stars
2/19/04 Shit KiD I love this movie! Fairuza Balk ruuuls!!! I just love her =) *Blessed Be* 5 stars
2/03/04 Bre IT WAS GREAT! 5 stars
5/31/03 mee AWESOME 5 stars
1/19/03 scott JUST OKAY 3 stars
1/15/03 Brandon LeBoeuf Fairuza Balk ROCKS! 5 stars
7/30/02 KMG PRETTY COOL 4 stars
5/24/02 Cat Great Movie, what you do comes back to you threefold 5 stars
5/14/02 Blake This was a really crafty movie. 5 stars
3/01/02 Alan Smithee Better than I was expecting. The girls are hot, but I was hoping for some nudity...... 4 stars
1/11/02 Andrew Carden Fun, Roller Coaster Ride. Mediocre, but Still Quite Good. 4 stars
7/30/01 Gary Entertaining, but with more rounded characters and a lot more subtlety it coulda been more. 3 stars
6/10/01 Serial_Monk_the_Jawbreaker This movie was scary. Illustrates what can happen to people when they abuse their power 5 stars
5/07/01 Gracy Lionheart Sigh...giving pagans a bad reputation...an ok movie though. 3 stars
4/01/01 Jesse L this movie is cool...for some reason gay people don't like it though.. 4 stars
1/31/01 Hannah Buckingham Not very scary, very unbelivable and predictable 1 stars
1/30/01 Big Isil a rental, maybe, but my waste a nice day? 1 stars
10/13/00 Jed Better than "Little Witches" but only slightly better. 1 stars
4/07/00 Jed Not the worst but certainly not the best witch movie. 1 stars
3/15/00 TIGGER Very good. Not very scary, good spells 5 stars
2/06/00 Kyle Broflovski A truly original teen horror flick without ten-thousand lameass knockoffs. 5 stars
12/05/99 PurityJustBegs Goth Girls.. gotta love 'em! Especially Fairuza. A gooey guilty pleasure 4 stars
11/04/99 Mickey "Father Death" MacJohnstmyster Neve is good , the movie isn't . One girl is the ugliest fucking thing i have ever seen . 2 stars
7/01/99 Elizaveta Bah! To hell with this! 2 stars
4/09/99 Michael Grimm Not just bitchin' "Witchin" 4 stars
2/17/99 Piz wasn't funny, wasn't scary, wasn't well acted...wasted rental. 1 stars
11/25/98 Fred Why Witch Movies Suck 101. Core class for Hollywood. 1 stars
10/26/98 Silent Rob Better than it shoulda been, worse than it coulda been 3 stars
10/24/98 Lord Of The Dunce This is a guilty pleasure of mine. 5 stars
9/26/98 katherine luved it. i like scary witchcraft stuff. 5 stars
8/30/98 Mister Whoopee I always get her name wrong, but I dig Fairuza Balk *SO* much. 4 stars
8/29/98 Matt it was decent, but lost my interest after a while.. i was watching it for Neve 3 stars
8/25/98 Miss Stress fairuza balk just plain scares me, that's why i liked it. 3 stars
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  03-May-1996 (R)
  DVD: 12-Sep-2000



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