“The Craft: Legacy” debuted Wednesday, Oct. 28 on Amazon Prime. As the name implies, the film is somewhere between a sequel and a reboot of the 1996 cult classic original — “The Craft.” It stems from the powerhouse horror production company Blumhouse, which is responsible for several recent hits including best-picture-nominated “Get Out,” 2018’s “Halloween” sequel and this year’s excellent reimagining of “The Invisible Man.”
The cast is filled with mostly newcomers, including lead Cailee Spaeny, Zoey Luna, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone and Nicholas Galitzine. Anchoring the cast is David Duchovny of “The X-Files” fame and Michelle Monaghan, known for her work in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise.
Like the original, the film centers around new girl Lily (Spaeny), who moves to a new town where she must navigate the typical high school jocks and cliques. The movie takes a magical — and at times, dark — turn when she discovers that she possesses powers and forms a coven with three other young witches. Together they harness the power of witchcraft, but as they become more powerful, things begin to go awry.
The first half of the film is basically a retread of the original, with some slight deviations. The core cast does a good job of trying to establish their own unique characters, but this ultimately proves meaningless — character development goes out the window as the film goes on. The original spent ample time with each member of the coven, allowing the audience to understand exactly what made them the outcasts of the school. This version seems to lump all the girls together, leaving the audience to simply take the filmmakers word for it that they don’t belong.
Throughout the film, it’s clear that there’s an intended commentary as to what exactly an “outsider” is, but this message ultimately falls flat, becoming a confusing distraction from the main narrative. The added twists and turns throughout the film are an appreciated attempt at originality, however the filmmakers’ attempt to update the story for the current political and social times consist mainly of them cramming in multiple “woke” storylines that ultimately amount to nothing.
What the film really lacks is atmosphere, which the original was dripping with. Stylistically, it’s just not as visually or narratively creative and lacks the creepy punch of the original. It’s also completely devoid of any scares, with even unsettling moments few and far between. This is likely the result of the PG-13 rating, a downgrade from the R-rated original. While this was likely an attempt to broaden the film’s audience, it ends up satisfying no one — the end product is too tame for horror fans and not the type of movie that casual audiences unaware of the original would want to see. As the film goes on, the acting gets progressively weaker, with Duchovny in particular seeming like he’s only in it for the paycheck. By the end of the movie, it feels generic and low-stakes, rendering it rather forgettable. The last-ditch attempt to connect the narrative with the original proves futile.
Ultimately, it’s hard to imagine audiences showing up for this film, especially given it’s steep $19.99 price tag to rent on streaming services. “The Craft: Legacy” is passable as a holiday popcorn flick when it inevitably reaches streaming services or cable, but until then, fans of the 1996 classic or those craving a fright-fest would be best served looking elsewhere.