Original release: May 3rd, 1996
Running time: 101 minutes
Director: Andrew Fleming
Writers: Andrew Fleming, Peter Filardi
Composer: Graeme Revell
Cast: Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True, Skeet Ulrich
When you grow up in a family that has a history of mixing with the occult, like mine did, you tend to rebel in unconventional ways. For me, rebelling was choosing to go to a Catholic high school and keeping on the straight and narrow.
That was until n my family began embracing Catholicism again in the early 90s. All of that went out the window and in came the dark clothes, Doc Martin boots, eyeliner, a love for alternative music and a willingness to skip class and pretend I could smoke cigarettes just as well as the other kids behind the bike sheds.
Eventually I became friends with two girls at my school, who, in many ways, were much more rebellious than I could ever be. For starters, they could smoke properly. As well as shoplifting, drinking and attending rock concerts, we were the sulky teens who sat at the back of the bus, hung out in record shops and listened to The Smiths, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cure.
When The Craft came along in 1996 and we went to see it together, we loved it because we saw ourselves as those characters. It wasn’t long before we were flicking through my father’s old books, messing around with Ouija Boards and wondering who our fourth could be if we ever wanted to complete the coven.
Set in Los Angeles, The Craft introduces us to Sarah (Robin Tunney), a teenage girl who’s just arrived there with her father to start a new life. She doesn’t seem at all rebellious, in fact she seems very ordinary, but we soon learn she has suicidal tendencies and that she lost her mother some time ago.
On her first day at her new Catholic high school, Sarah catches the attention of Bonnie (Neve Campbell), Nancy (Fairuza Balk) and Rochelle (Rachel True) but is warned by others to steer clear of them. They’re “the bitches of Eastwick” as Chris (Skeet Ulrich) tells her.
Though Bonnie, Nancy and Rochelle have an interest in magic, they need a fourth if they really want to perform spells. They have every reason to want to do this; the girls all have problems ranging abusive and alcoholic parents, suffering from racial taunts at school and body scars – they would do anything to change their lives.
When Bonnie notices Sarah has natural abilities that could make them all stronger as a group, they convince her to join them and it’s not long before they’re floating each other and doing glamour spells, but they want to do more than that.
It’s like god and the devil. I mean, it’s everything. It’s-it’s the trees; it’s the ground; it’s the rocks; it’s the moon; it’s everything.
If god and the devil were playing football, Manon would be the stadium they played on. It would be the sun that shone down on them.
Their classmates soon notice a change in the girls as they become more confident with their newfound powers, but eventually it takes a much darker turn.
Rachel casts a spell to make a racist cheerleader’s blonde hair fall out, but eventually begins to feel pity for the girl, meanwhile Bonnie heals her scars but her personality begins to change. Sarah tries to get Chris to notice her but he becomes obsessed with her, and Nancy…well, she was always the wild one in the pack and the magic she takes into herself goes to a very dark place.
The Craft makes its way to climax which sees Nancy, aided by Bonnie and Rachel, banding together to bring down Sarah, who wants to leave the coven after their magic results in the death of a classmate. Unleashing a torrent of nasties, Nancy also uses Sarah’s suicidal tendencies and the death of her mother against her in the hope that she’ll eventually crack, but she doesn’t bank on her using her natural powers to fight back.
Backed by a fantastic score by Graeme Revell which includes Bells, Books and Candles, as well as song by Our Lady Peace, Letters to Cleo, Matthew Sweet and Love Spit Love’s cover of The Smith’s How Soon Is Now, The Craft was a film we couldn’t get enough of. We had the soundtrack, the VHS, the poster and sometimes at school we even walked in slow motion down the hall, adorned with rosaries.
While the film highlighted the idea that what you put out comes back to you threefold it also showed us that for many of life’s problems you don’t need magic to fix them. Seeing the way it turns out for the girls made us think again about how much magic we wanted to play with and we decided maybe it was better just sticking with the movies, music and clothes – at least until we made it through our teenage years.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .