The craft: legacy is, as the title suggests, a continuation of The craft.
The craft is an interesting film. It received critical criticism when it was first released, but conscious efforts have been made to reevaluate it since then. This is not uncommon in female horror; Jennifer’s body recently underwent another critical reassessment, and rightly so. The craft is an interesting film in that sense; It is certainly a better movie than many critics thought, if not the hidden masterpiece its modern defenders would want.
One of the most important and lasting strengths of The craft was that when it was released it was a relatively rare example of a women-centered supernatural horror film that explicitly addressed the idea of women’s empowerment in the mid-1990s context and filtered through a teenage perspective. (It arrived a year earlier Buffy the vampire butcher.) The fact that this was an underserved market was perhaps best illustrated by the launch of the television show on similar themes Fascinated two years later that would run quietly for eight seasons.
The craft was imperfect, but it scratched a very severe itch. The craft: legacy naturally arrives at a completely different time. While audiences look for genre stories like this about young women grappling with supernatural metaphors for empowerment in a hostile world, there are far more options than in 1994. The craft: legacy has to offer more than just a nostalgic memory of a film that has slowly and surely built a cult following. Unfortunately, the film can’t even do that.
heritage is an exercise in nostalgia. It’s an exercise in nostalgia especially for The craftunderstandably. The film builds on a late cameo that is both inevitable and slightly depressing. a sequel straight from the modern franchise playbook. If heritage provides the mandatory “Restart young characters” similar in property Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Force AwakensThen this closing scene seems to create something similar to what the franchise does X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s cynical, but also hollow.
The nostalgia goes deeper, however. heritage is deliberately designed as an exercise in nostalgia for the nineties in general. The film introduces its protagonist Lily (as in Lilith), who listens to Alanis Morissette on a road trip with her mother, who is a therapist. Lily likes to take pictures with her Polaroid camera. Lily and her mother go on a trip together to meet Lily’s mother’s new boyfriend, played by David Duchovny. That’s all very nineties.
Who is the target audience for? heritage? The obvious answer seems to be for teenagers, given the movie’s PG-13 rating aimed at attracting the youngest possible audience, which makes this pandering seem a bit unusual. Even if heritage should greet fans of the original version of The craftThe status of this film as a cult hit with an audience of fans that has added over time makes this nostalgia of the nineties seem somewhat misguided. Certainly fans of The craft are less likely for fans of a certain time and more likely for fans of a certain genre?
It’s a stilted awkwardness heritage, especially in his efforts to write credible teenagers. While the movie’s nineties are meant to appeal to older fans, the film also makes an effort to convincingly outline its core cast. There is a strong sense of “How are you, fellow children?” to portray its young protagonists in the film. “All of you, witches ready?” asks the film in its opening scene. The audience is told that Frankie is “A Twilight Stan” and that Tabby loves Beyoncé, cultural markers that for modern teenagers feel about a decade out of date.
To be fair, the writer and director tries to position Zoe Lister-Jones heritage as a film with a decidedly modern sensibility. Some of this actually works relatively well, such as the relative ease the film feels with the sexuality of its teenage characters, with Lily’s menstruation serving as the central plot point. In addition, Legacy very consciously and very openly places value on interweaving the idea of “Approval” in its core narrative. The result is a movie similar to Blockersin the sense that it is not afraid to acknowledge the life of its teenage female protagonist.
Unfortunately, heritage gets very confused very quickly. Most of this is due to the fact that heritage is not a particularly subtle film. This can be seen in the use of David Duchovny casting the former X files lead as a thinly veiled analogue for Jordan Peterson. He is a speaker at “Masculinity in Crisis”who keeps handy framed copies of articles with headings such as “Man up” in his study, along with books like “The sacred masculinity” on his shelf. If the parallels are too subtle, this male rights analog is called literally “Adam” and connected with snakes.
There is nothing wrong with using a story about witchcraft to examine the idea of masculinity in crisis and the rise of anti-feminism. Indeed, there are moments when the film brushes against interesting ideas. Adam lectures extensively on how “Power equals control” and even warns the protagonist “That’s the thing about girls with power, Lily: they’re always too weak not to use them against each other.” However, it’s all very broad and very general, like it’s been copied from the back of a cereal box. It turns the questioning of toxic masculinity into Black Christmas seem subtle.
There are other problems. On a simple narrative level, its thematic dynamics get messed up in a major subplot that focuses on a male supporting character who refreshes the idea of “Approval” as it relates to the use of magic. This is understandably a sensitive issue, and heritage addresses the subject in a potentially uncomfortable way. However, it also pulls back quite sharply and dramatically without fully extracting the in-game subtext. It’s a very cynical and very calculated move.
(There are other similarly jumbled moments. The film is about trans-actor Zoey Luna, so it is unlikely to be intentionally transphobic. However, in the context of a film that is very deliberate on ideas about gender and orientation, there are certain elements of inconvenience a crucial climax where a male character disguises himself as a woman in an attempt to steal the powers of women. There doesn’t seem to be any deliberate malice here, just a refusal to follow any of the movie’s bigger ideas.
The problems of the film, however, are more fundamental. It struggles with tone, unsure whether it’s a horror, a coming-of-age story, or a comedy. heritage fluctuates sharply at different points between the genres and never settles in a comfortable grove. The movie never seems to be entirely sure how seriously it wants to take itself, but it’s also never entirely sure how enjoyable it is when the audience laughs at it. The result is a film with a kind of identity crisis. This may suit its protagonists, but it is not a satisfactory film.
The influence of superhero cinema is very noticeable heritage. There is a lot of talk about it “Forces” in the literal (plural) sense and not in the more abstract or metaphorical sense. The film asks lead actor Cailee Spaeny to do a lot “Hand play” that blockbusters expect from modern protagonists, an art form that Michael Fassbender has mastered X-Men: First class. Perhaps the funniest moment in the movie comes to a head when Lily wags her hands in desperation, hoping CGI will step in just to get the bad guy going. “They don’t seem to work anymore.”
heritage is an overwhelming mess of a movie, but at least it affirms The craft on one important point: at least those audiences who want to regain those highs have better options these days.