You know, I love the movies Ideal Home and Bad Dreams. I’d never guess that they were both written and directed by the same person, Andrew Fleming. You may not know the man, but chances are you know his 1996 film, The Craft.
Producer Douglas Wick (he produced Stuart Little and also co-wrote the sequels) wanted to create a movie that mixed the high school experience with witchcraft, which he worked on with screenwriter Peter Filardi (Flatliners). Well, he sure did it. This is a movie that was a quiet hit but has never gone away. Take it from someone who has dated plenty of goth girls.
Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney, wearing a wig as she had shaved her head for Empire Records) is the new girl in town, having moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco with her father (Cliff DeYoung, Shock Treatment) and stepmother. She soon becomes friends with a group of outcasts who are rumored to be witches: the scarred Bonnie (Neve Campbell), trailer trash and totally awesome Nancy (the legit Wiccan Fairuza Balk, who was also in Return to Oz) and Rochelle (Rachel True, CB4), whose black skin in a nearly all white school makes her a target of ridicule. The witch rumor? Yeah, it’s true. They all worship an entity they refer to as Manon.
Sarah becomes attracted to the popular Chris Hooker (Skeet Ulrich, who was very much a thing in 1996), but he claims that they slept together and ruins her reputation before it gets started. That leads to the girls finally completing a big spell that gives them everything they want: Chris falls in love so hard that he can’t live without Sarah, racist bully Laura Lizzie (Christine Taylor) loses her hair and popularity, Bonnie becomes gorgeous and Nancy’s abusive stepfather dies and she gets rich.
However, it’s not enough. After a rite called the “Invocation of the Spirit,” Nancy gains even more power because, you know, she got hit by lightning (actual Wiccan Pat Devin was the on-set advisor, so maybe this really does occur). Now she can’t be stopped and all of the girls other than Sarah have gone wrong. The coven turns on her, but Sarah ends up stronger than all of them.
Of course, Blumhouse is remaking this, with Zoe Lister-Jones directing. There was talk of another remake and a direct to video sequel which never happened. I had hoped that that luck would have stopped this new version, but it’s already finished production.
I learned a really important lesson from The Craft. The girl I was dating at the time asked me which member of the coven I found most attractive. I said none of them. She kept pressing and begging for my answer. Of course Fairuza Balk is the right answer, but I kept quiet until finally, after an entire meal of her asking, I told her. She instantly grew angry and said, “The right answer is none of them!” Somewhere inside this story is a lesson.
I love the scene where all the fish wash up and the coven realizes how much power they have. You don’t know how many times the women in my life have made me watch this movie. I have grown smarter and not said a single thing about Nancy.