The Craft: Legacy Review: It’s Blumhouse’s Black Christmas remake all over again
Although Blumhouse has created plenty of original modern horror franchises over the years, they’ve also been scooping up some already established properties to be remade for a modern audience. While Halloween and The Invisible Man have worked out for them well thus far, their attempts to bring Black Christmas and Fantasy Island back for modern audiences fell really flat. That’s what made the news of Blumhouse delivering a modern-day sequel to The Craft so intriguing and left people wondering if it could evoke the same vibes as the 1996 cult classic.
Now, although it’s a sequel, that doesn’t mean that it carries the same dark edge as the original and realistically it shouldn’t. The Craft became such a cult classic with how it evoked a unique goth look with its empowering female characters and creepy visuals perfectly differed from what was being offered with other teen horror movies. Times have changed though and a straight up carbon copy of what we had before probably wouldn’t connect as well for a new generation of viewers. In some ways, that’s what makes The Craft: Legacy, written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones, admirable as it’s not just a hand me down version of the original, like so many modern remakes have been, and tries to offer a modern story about sisterhood within The Craft’s universe. It’s new style and modern updates likely won’t win over fans of the original since they are so vastly different and, unfortunately Legacy is going to struggle to win anyone over as it’s really just a lifeless carbon copy of Blumhouse’s Black Christmas remake.
The film starts out on a promising note with us being introduced to the warm chemistry of Lily (Cailee Spaeny) and her mother Helen (Michelle Monaghan) as they travel to a new town to live with Helen’s new boyfriend Adam (David Duchovny). It’s easy to see how close Lily and Helen are and the genuine connection showed in the opening sequence between Spaeny and Monaghan helps start things off on the right foot. Things aren’t so swell for Lily at school though as an unfortunate incident makes her an easy target for bullies, but also catches the eye of three girls looking for a fourth to join their group. Lourdes (Zoey Luna), Frankie (Gideon Adlon), and Tabby (Lovie Simone) are three “outcasts” that have been experimenting with witchcraft and are looking for a fourth to create a coven of their own – which they find in Lily. Together, this small coven taps into powerful abilities they have within them and begin to change the world around them.
Lily meeting the girls is another warm relationship that gets thing off on the right foot and the scene where they initially come together to see that their powers work is nice as the impact legitimately feels life changing. However, the good times don’t last for long as the film really doesn’t have a coherent plot or detailed characters. The group mastering their abilities is shown in a fast, underwhelming montage and it doesn’t lead to anything big happening. The film is pretty much devoid of cool or ambitious visuals and nothing detrimental or major happens with their powers other than making one of the film’s bully woke. There’re a lot of things it’s sets up, like a budding friendship between Lily and Adam’s youngest son It’s actually such a boring and safe plot that a “surprise” antagonist has to be thrown into the mix to try to give the third act some energy – which just ends up making things worse.
The cast themselves is fine with what they’re given, but what they’re given definitely doesn’t measure up to the talent onscreen. When it comes to Lourdes, Frankie, and Tabby, we literally learn nothing about them, and their personalities really just blend together into screaming teenage girls. There’s no solo time given to them, other than Lily, to flesh out their characters or really even explain why they’re outcasts or care about being witches so much. In the original, there was a character named Rochelle (Rachel True) who fit into the outcast group because she was bullied by preppy white girls because she was being racially bullied for being black and this film attempts to do the same thing with Lourdes being trans. However, they never show her, or any of the girls other than Lily, being outcasted or bullied so it comes off more like they are outlasting themselves. Not that I want to see transphobia play out on screen, but seeing it happen to Lourdes creates a much stronger connection to her because you see her view of the struggles she faces and get a better sense of the high school environment they’re in. This film has none of that though and leads you to assume things about the characters – ultimately making it harder to connect with them on a deeper level and having them be really bland.
It’s unfortunate reminiscence to the Black Christmas remake though really stems from the social issues and woke themes that are injected into the plot rather than deeply embedded. Every turn of this film feels like it’s trying to shove some kind of bland and blunt political message about masculinity in your face. Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine), the school bully, becomes the embodiment of wokeness and it just serves as a means for these girls to be empowered because they put a spell on him to open his narrow-minded views. Since this is done through a spell, none of the self-realizations or things that he’s saying feel like his own thoughts but rather projections of the girls’ thoughts. With no sense of challenging these though or the girls even challenging each other, aside from the girl’s half-heartedly getting mad at Lily when she “takes things too far” with Timmy, so it’s just trying to shove thoughts down viewers’ throat. It’s worse that this film tries to makes it’s lead girl group seem empowered, but since they don’t really have to come over any real obstacles or face any sort of genuine pushback for their beliefs that this sense of empowerment never clicks or feels impactful – especially when the film’s big antagonist comes into play.
Throughout the film, Lily is slightly suspicious of Adam and his lectures on masculinity and it ends up coming to form when he suddenly decides to be evil and be a part of a male pagan cult in order to give this movie a bad guy. Just like Black Christmas, Legacy has an all-male villain entity that’s barely built up or fleshed out and literally is only motivated to take out women because they are inferior beings. It comes off like another sad attempt to give the female leads a way to be empowered as they defeat them and it’s so ineffective because he’s literally a joke. The girls defeat him so easily and the “male cult” he’s apart of doesn’t even show up so it’s a totally bland battle that doesn’t work at all in giving it’s female heroines a decent challenge to overcome. It’s literally one of the worst endings I’ve seen recently, and the film delivers a final gut punch with how it pays a cheap nod to the original.
With it’s paper thin story and characters, cheap attempts at empowering its female characters through force-fed wokeness, and absolutely no genuine ties to original cult classic aside from the title and a cameo, The Craft: Legacy utterly fails at modernizing the series. It’s a horror film devoid of scares or any kinds of horror and doesn’t uphold the Legacy of the original because of how safe and typical for a teen horror movie it is – something that The Craft did everything not to be. It’s the first film that’s made me scared of Blumhouse snatching up classic horror franchises, especially with them making a remake of The Thing and showing interest in Friday the 13th, and that’s not the kind of horrors anyone is looking for.
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