The Craft - * *

Amusing but unmemorable revenge film about witchcraft in high school. Robin Tunney plays Sarah, a new girl at a Catholic academy who has some strange magical powers. These attract the three local witches to befriend her. Since the coven now numbers four, they can proceed to cast some serious magic. Of course, they apply it to some truly pitiful ends. Sarah cast a love slave spell over a handsome jock who rejected her. Rochelle (Rachel True) gets revenge at a racist rival on her swim team. Bonnie (Neve Campbell) heals her disfiguring burn scars and becomes beautiful. Finally, Nancy (Fairuza Balk) uses the magic to rise in status and go power-mad. Once the girls get tired of their revenge fantasies, the film turns into an all-out magical war between Sarah the good witch, and the Wicked Witch of GenX, Nancy. The effects are good, and the acting of the four leads is well done (particuarly by Balk). However the weakness of the film is the simplistic script. Rather than attempting any serious depth or even humor, the film resorts to the standard structure: each girl is defined by one particular problem, and each girl has a chance to overcome that problem. While hinting at the consequences of irresponsibly using the witchcraft, the film never follows through. And while the revenge fantasies are mildly interesting while they’re going on, the magic doesn’t last.

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