'90s Movie Month! "The Craft" Review

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A newcomer to a Catholic prep high school falls in with a trio of outcast teenage girls who practice witchcraft and they all soon conjure up various spells and curses against those who even slightly anger them.
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'90s Movie Month! "The Craft" Review

Rating: R (some terror, violence and brief language)
Length: 101 minutes
Release Date: May 3, 1996
Directed by: Andrew Fleming
Genre: Drama/Fantasy/Horror 

Directed by Andrew Fleming, the 1996 movie "The Craft" tells the story four girls who form a coven of witches and unlock the secret to magical spell casting. They use magic powers for their personal gain without considering the consequences of their actions.  The movie opens with Sarah, played by Robin Tunney, her father, and her stepmother moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Sarah is a troubled girl who has already attempted suicide. Sarah joins a ritzy Catholic prep high school, and on her first day meets a boy named Chris, played by Skeet Ulrich. Chris invites her to watch his football practice, during which three misfit girls befriend Sarah. Bonnie, played by Neve Campbell, is horribly scarred. Rochelle, played by Rachel True, suffers daily from the taunts of a popular girl at school, Laura Lizzie. Nancy, depicted by Fairuza Balk, is the ringleader of the group. Her family is poor, and her mother and stepfather are alcoholics.

The movie is a depiction of the problems teenagers face when trying to fit in with their peers. Popularity contests and bullying abound, while these particular victims secretly have bigger problems in their lives, like being scarred in a fire and suffering from depression that leads to suicide attempts.

 At school, Chris spreads terrible rumors about Sara. Rochelle is persecuted by Laura Lizzie, played by Christine Taylor, for her African-American heritage. The film then shows Bonnie undergoing a torturous procedure in hopes of removing the massive scars on her back. Lastly, viewers get a taste of Nancy's home life, complete with drunken mother and lecherous stepfather. 

The girls discuss their practice of magic, and Sarah confides that she has some supernatural powers, albeit not very strong ones. Bonnie, Nancy, and Rochelle are trying to find a fourth girl to join their coven so they can form a proper magical circle. At first, Sarah is uncomfortable with the idea, but she eventually agrees. The girls decide to cast spells to gain the things they want most. Rochelle aims her spell toward Laura, in revenge for all the bullying. Sarah wants Chris to like her, and Bonnie wishes for her scars to go away. Nancy, however, casts a spell to take in all the powers of Mano, which is the embodiment of all magical powers.  After the spell-casting ritual, Chris begins fawning over Sarah. A spell causes clumps of Lizzie's hair to fall out until she is almost bald. A ritual on Bonnie's behalf causes the unlikely outcome of her scar treatment completely ridding her of scars. The girls are overjoyed by the results of their magic practice, failing to realize the adverse effects of what they are doing. 

One night Nancy's deplorable stepfather raises his hand to strike Nancy's mother, and as Nancy screams for him to stop, a kitchen appliance explodes and starts a fire. As Nancy begins repeating the words "You're a pig," her stepfather has a fatal heart attack. After his death, Nancy and her mother inherit money from an insurance policy set up at the stepfather's job. 

Throughout the film, the girls focus on their personal gain. During their rituals, they refer to the power of three times three without ever considering what those words mean. In the Wiccan religion, the law of three times three states that whatever magical energy a person sends out will return to the person with three times the strength. Whatever pleasure the girls experience through their spells, they eventually must face the consequences of their actions. 

"The Craft" is an example of how hateful schoolchildren in cliques can be and the bullying children face. It is certainly a movie aimed toward a teen audience. The actors did a fine job; Fairuza Balk, who gave a wonderful performance in "Valemont," throws herself into the role of a person going mad from power. "The Craft" is an entertaining teen flick with an important moral, especially considering current incidents of bullying via the Internet. 

Rating: 3 out of 5