Just in time for “Women in Horror Month,” Andrew Fleming’s “The Craft” is one of those movies that’s gained some heavy cult momentum over the years, and for good reason. Even with the nineties aesthetic, “The Craft” has aged quite well offering up a mature genre picture that begins as a coming of age supernatural drama and gradually transforms in to a horror film. There just aren’t films like “The Craft” anymore, and that’s a shame, since Andrew Fleming offers up a unique tale of good and evil, and power corrupting absolutely.
After attempting suicide, Sarah arrives in Los Angeles to attend a prominent Catholic school, and finds that the social circle isn’t entirely welcoming of new students. While attempting to adjust with her family who view her as a threat to herself, she meets a trio of young girls whom are equally disturbed outcasts, and struggling to find their place. Sarah befriends them, and while slowly acknowledging signs of doom around her, realizes that the young girls are a coven. Attempting to invoke an ancient spirit that will grant them god-like powers, the girls form a complete circle of witches. In spite of a spiritual guide’s warning that Sarah is the only true witch in the group, the young girls are given immense powers of regeneration and control over their environment, which soon progresses from an adventure in to a dark and disturbing murderous rampage.
“The Craft” is a pure gem of a fantasy horror film that manages to build some compelling and often complex characters. Fleming compiles a who’s who of up and coming nineties stars (Skeet Ulrich, Neve Campbell, Brekkin Meyer, and Rachel True respectively), and Robin Tunney successfully carries the film with her strong portrayal of the inadvertent center of extraordinary circumstances. We don’t expect much from Sarah when we first meet, her but Fleming manages to allude to a lot with Sarah, right down to a meeting with a mystical shop keeper that hints at her abilities. If I have one complaint is that Fleming hints at some larger story threads, but never sees them through.
Was the shopkeeper Sarah’s mother? Why does Sarah have powers dwarfing her allies? In either case, “The Craft” shifts tones beautifully, beginning as a tale of friendship and ending as a horror story about wrath and envy. Fairuza Balk also gives a star turning performance as the snake like Nancy Downs, a girl filled with enough rage, and anger that she inevitably becomes consumed by her own power. “The Craft” has just about everything, even if you’re a nineties kid, with a solid cast, great special effects, and a very good narrative about the consuming nature of power.
The new Collector’s Edition from Scream Factory comes with an audio commentary by director Andrew Fleming. There’s an entertaining fifteen minute interview with director Fleming who originally wanted to do a comedy, but immersed himself in the culture to give as best a film that he could. There’s a thirteen minute interview with producer Douglas Wick, whose love for movies about outsiders brought him to “The Craft.” Here he discusses character themes, obstacles they face, and finding the right people to bring the vision to life. He also educates on the process of casting, meshing both the business and artistic side of filmmaking with this sit down.
There’s a ten minute interview with screenwriter Peter Filardi, who discusses coming off of “Flatliners” and trying to make the film as bankable as possible. There’s an interview with Effects Artist Tony Gardner clocking in at eleven minutes. Gardner discusses almost every effect in the film with immense detail, including making Robin Tunney’s wig look realistic. Next there’s “Conjuring the Craft” clocking in at twenty four minutes, at six minutes there’s the standard EPK “The Making of the Craft”, and finally almost seven minutes of Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary.