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FIVE STAR FILMS #52: The Craft (1996)

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It’s (arguably) the definitive movie about witches. Sure, Hocus Pocus was fun and sure, The Witches was creepy (nobody mention Practical Magic) BUT The Craft had every teenage girl in the nineties wanting to play light as a feather, stiff as a board at their next sleepover. It was cool, it was creepy and it was cult. It ceaselessly became a 90s classic. In the name of Manon, we look at why.

Nancy

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There are high school mean girls; then there is Nancy Downs. Fairuza Balk has a penchant for playing dark roles, but her portrayal of “white trash” Goth Nancy has become the defining point of her career. The brilliance is the set-up: Nancy is weird, certainly. Yet she’s cool and damaged, sexy and loyal. You want to hang with her and you want to be on her good side. She’s a likable character that slowly begins to tip into crazy, Satanic bitch territory each minute the film ticks on. By the time her toes are dragging along the carpet and she’s screaming “HE’S SORRY! HE’S SORRY! HE’S SORRY! HE’S SORRY! HE’S SORRY!” Nancy is firmly cemented as a great cinematic antagonist. When Bellatrix Lestrange was a teenager, she would have been Nancy.

The soundtrack

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Letters To Cleo, Jewel, Matthew Sweet, Our Lady Peace, Elastica, Juliana Hatfield, Love Spit Love = pure nineties gold.

Ain’t nobody messin’ with my clique

Hexenclub, Der / Craft, The

Featuring a supporting cast of nineties stalwarts (Skeet Ulrich, Breckin Meyer, Christine Taylor), it’s the central four witches that bring the magic to The Craft. Balk as Nancy we’ve mentioned, but scream queen Neve Campbell brought a lovely set of vulnerabilities to the role of Bonnie. In a ballsy move for the time, Rachel True’s character Rochelle was used as a way to tackle racism and white girl privilege. And it was just the start for Robin Tunney playing the central Wiccan Sarah. Sweet and naïve to begin with, as Nancy developed so too did Sarah as she became strong and confident in the face of adversary. It was a layered a performance from Tunney that elevated the movie from B territory and has seen her continue to have a career in Hollywood.

 

The fashion

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Black fishnets. Short skirts. Pentagram pendants. Heeled boots. Flowy dresses. Pretty crosses. Black nail polish. Dusty florals. Red wine lips. Studded chokers. Knee high socks.

Nuff said.

Outcasts

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Not the kind who shake it like a Polaroid picture, the kind a lot of teenagers associate with in high school if they’re not into ‘certain’ things or dress a ‘certain’ way. If you were an outcast in high school, the prospect of finding your very own posse of similar minded outcasts who embraced their weirdness was THE DREAM. If only say you too could lower your glasses and coolly reply:

“We are the weirdos mister.”

Maria Lewis – follow Maria on Twitter here: @moviemazz

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