May 10, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

There’s nothing very ”witchy” about the four high school girls who form a coven in The Craft, and that’s what makes the movie, in its junky, here’s-a-new-concept-to- hook-the-kids way, rather appealing. Alienated from everyone at school, the girls go out in the woods to take blood oaths, consult tomes of occult wisdom, and engage in sisterly rites of oneness with the demon goddesses of yore. Mostly, though, they’re brats who want to get even, and The Craft, at least for its first half, plays as a satirical teen-clique horror movie — Carrie meets early John Hughes.

As the most spiteful of the four, Fairuza Balk suggests a Molly Ringwald who grew up with riot grrrls as role models. Short but fierce, with milky skin, glittering eyes, and a flash-of-gums smile that’s as freaky as it is lewd, Balk plays a witch-bitch punk with a ferocity that’s too genuine to be camp. As long as she and her friends are casting spells, turning a rude jock into a slave or making a racist princess lose her beautiful corn-silk hair, The Craft should please teenage girls at malls everywhere. But the film ends up descending into moralizing blahness. Most of the special effects are routine (the girls levitate like Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice), though there is one memorable bit: a nightmare featuring enough snakes, bugs, and slithery maggots to make Indiana Jones go gulp.

type
Movie
mpaa
R
runtime
101 minutes
director
Andrew Fleming
Cast
Fairuza Balk,
Breckin Meyer,
Christine Taylor,
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