The Craft (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrew Fleming|
|Produced by||Douglas Wick|
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Edited by||Jeff Freeman|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$55.6 million|
The Craft is a 1996 American supernatural horror film directed by Andrew Fleming and distributed by Columbia Pictures. It was written by Andrew Fleming and Peter Filardi and stars Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True. Its story follows a group of four outcast teenage girls at a fictional Los Angeles parochial high school who pursue witchcraft for their own gain but soon encounter negative repercussions.
The film was released on May 3, 1996. It was a surprise hit, earning $6.7 million in its opening weekend and $55.6 million worldwide, against a budget of $15 million. It received mixed reviews from critics. In the years since its release, the film has gained a cult following.
Sarah Bailey, a troubled teenager with unusual abilities, has just moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles with her father and stepmother. At her new school, she forms a friendship with three outcast girls who are rumored to be witches; Bonnie Harper (who bears burn scars from an auto accident), Nancy Downs (whose family lives in a trailer and whose stepfather is abusive) and Rochelle Zimmerman (a black girl who is subjected to racist bullying by a group of white girls). Sarah becomes attracted to football team member Chris Hooker. Bonnie, Nancy, and Rochelle worship a deity named "Manon".
When Bonnie observes Sarah levitating a pencil in class, she and the group become convinced that she is the right girl to complete their coven as "the fourth", making them all powerful. It is revealed that Sarah attempted suicide in the past. After a date with Chris, Sarah is upset to find that he has spread a false rumor that they had sex and she was terrible in bed. He also treats her disrespectfully in front of his friends. In response, she casts a love spell on him. Rochelle casts a revenge spell on bully Laura Lizzie, Bonnie casts a beauty spell, and Nancy one for power. Laura, who had harassed Rochelle over her curly hair, begins to lose her own hair, and Bonnie's scars are healed in her surgery. Nancy causes her stepfather to have a heart attack and die. This enables her and her mother to cash in his life insurance policy and move out of their trailer and into a luxurious apartment.
Nancy becomes greedy for power and encourages the others to join her in a rite called "Invocation of the Spirit". The following morning, the girls see Nancy walking on water, and several sharks are beached. She starts lacking empathy and takes risks with her life and others' lives.
The spells the girls cast lead to negative consequences: Bonnie becomes aggressively narcissistic, Rochelle finds Laura traumatized by her baldness, and Chris attempts to rape Sarah when she rejects his advances. Nancy uses a spell to make herself look like Sarah and tries to fool Chris into having sex with her at a party. She is interrupted by the real Sarah and it becomes obvious that Nancy has unrequited feelings for Chris. Chris says Nancy must be jealous, angering her, and she uses her power to kill him.
Sarah performs a binding spell to prevent Nancy from doing more harm, but it doesn't work, and the coven turns on Sarah. They invade her dreams, torment her with visions, and make her believe that her family died in a plane crash. They try to induce her to commit suicide, and Nancy cuts Sarah's wrists herself. Although initially terrified, Sarah "invokes the spirit" and is able to heal herself and fight back. She scares off Bonnie and Rochelle by showing them glamours of Bonnie with her face scarred and Rochelle losing her hair like Laura, then binds Nancy, preventing her from causing harm forever.
Bonnie and Rochelle, finding their powers gone, visit Sarah to attempt reconciliation, only to find that she wants nothing to do with them and that Manon had taken away their powers after they abused them. They scornfully mutter that Sarah must have lost her powers too; Sarah then makes a tree branch nearly fall on them. She warns them to be careful not to end up like Nancy. Nancy is committed to a psychiatric hospital, stripped of her powers, and strapped to her bed as she desperately insists she can fly.
- Robin Tunney as Sarah Bailey
- Fairuza Balk as Nancy Downs
- Neve Campbell as Bonnie Harper
- Rachel True as Rochelle Zimmerman
- Skeet Ulrich as Chris Hooker
- Cliff DeYoung as Mr. Bailey
- Christine Taylor as Laura Lizzie
- Breckin Meyer as Mitt
- Nathaniel Marston as Trey
- Helen Shaver as Grace Downs
- Assumpta Serna as Lirio
- William Newman as Street Preacher
- Brenda Strong as Doctor
The concept for The Craft came from a collaboration between producer Douglas Wick, who wanted to create a film about the high school experience blended with witchcraft, and screenwriter Peter Filardi, who extensively researched the topic and wrote the initial draft. Andrew Fleming was hired to direct and produce the final version of the screenplay.
85 other actresses screen-tested for the four main roles, including Angelina Jolie and Alicia Silverstone. Rachel True and Fairuza Balk were the first to be cast in their respective roles. The character of Rochelle was re-written when True was cast to be black, incorporating racism subplot as the character's major conflict. Robin Tunney was initially cast in the role of Bonnie, but the producers decided she would be better in the starring role of Sarah, which she was persuaded to accept despite preferring the former. Neve Campbell, the most well-known of the four actresses for her role on Party of Five, was then cast as Bonnie. Tunney had shaved her head for her role in Empire Records and had to wear a wig throughout filming.
Production enlisted a real-life Wiccan named Pat Devin to act as an on-set advisor for the film. She wrote the incantations used and ensured that the treatment of the Wiccan subject-matter was as accurate and respectful as possible.
The shooting took place throughout Los Angeles, including the Los Angeles International Airport, Sunset Boulevard, and Broadway. Verdugo Hills High School was the setting for the fictional Catholic school, St. Benedict's Academy; production designer Marek Dobrowolski added different religious statues throughout the building and the grounds. Sarah's home in the film was a 2-story Spanish mansion and the interiors were built on a soundstage at Culver City Studios. The occult bookstore was shot at the El Adobe Marketplace in Hollywood Boulevard. The room was repainted and enhanced and occult icons such as candles, stigmas, religious statues, masks, and tribal dolls were added for effect. Jensen's Recreation Center in Echo Park was chosen to avoid overuse of frequently seen Los Angeles locations. During filming, an unrelated accident occurred in which a child was injured; the production's medic saw this and called paramedics. The makeshift altar was set in Wood Ranch, a location that Dobrowolski called the hardest to find. Dobrowolski wanted to avoid manicured parks like Griffith Park. The beach summoning took place at Leo Carrillo State Park, which was chosen because its crest made it seem less visually boring.
|The Craft: |
Music from the Motion Picture
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||April 30, 1996|
The Craft: Music from the Motion Picture was released on April 30, 1996, by Columbia Records on CD and cassette, one month before the film's official theatrical release in the United States. The soundtrack contains a collection of songs, to suit the theme of the movie, from various artists including Heather Nova, Letters to Cleo, and Spacehog. Nova's version of "I Have the Touch", originally performed by Peter Gabriel, which featured during the end credits of the film, was exclusively included on the soundtrack, and is not available as a single, or on any of Nova's albums, nor does she perform the song in concert. The tracks in film, titled "Sick Child", "Fallin'" and "Scorn" performed by Siouxsie and the Banshees, Connie Francis and Portishead respectively, were omitted from the soundtrack due to copyright issues from their record labels. However, they were only included in the film as part of an arrangement with PolyGram Film & Television Licensing. An uncredited bonus track, "Bells, Books, and Candles", composed by Graeme Revell for the film's score, was included on the soundtrack. A follow-up soundtrack, The Original Motion Picture Score, was released on June 18, 1996 from Varèse Sarabande, and contained the film's score which was entirely composed and produced by Graeme Revell.
|1.||"Tomorrow Never Knows"||John Lennon, Paul McCartney||Our Lady Peace||4:14|
|2.||"I Have the Touch"||Peter Gabriel||Heather Nova||4:17|
|3.||"All This and Nothing"||Vinnie Dombroski||Sponge||4:19|
|4.||"Dangerous Type"||Ric Ocasek||Letters to Cleo||3:39|
|5.||"How Soon Is Now?"||Steven Morrissey, John Marr||Love Spit Love||4:25|
|6.||"Dark Secret"||Matthew Sweet||Matthew Sweet||4:04|
|7.||"Witches Song"||Juliana Hatfield||4:35|
|8.||"Jump Into the Fire"||Harry Nilsson||Tripping Daisy||5:45|
|9.||"Under the Water"||Jewel Kilcher, Ralph Sall||Jewel||4:58|
|10.||"Warning"||Tim DeLaughter, Ralph Sall||All Too Much||4:44|
|12.||"The Horror"||Bryce Goggin||Spacehog||4:49|
|13.||"Bells, Books and Candles"||Revell||Graeme Revell||4:47|
The Craft received mixed reviews upon its release and currently holds a 55% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 56 reviews, with a weighted average of 5.48/10. The site's consensus reads: "The Craft's campy magic often overrides the feminist message at the film's core, but its appealing cast and postmodern perspective still cast a sporadic spell". Emanuel Levy of Variety described it as "a neatly crafted film that begins most promisingly as a black comedy a la Heathers, but gradually succumbs to its tricky machinery of special effects". Roger Ebert also felt the film was mired in excessive special effects, but praised the performances of the four leads, as did Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle. Stephen Holden of The New York Times echoed other reviews, praising the first half of the film as a "celebration of adolescent nonconformity and female independence", but criticized the last half as a "heavy-handed sermon about karma" with "garish" special effects. Rita Kempley of The Washington Post called it "a brew of Hawthorne, Heathers and Hollywood hocus-pocus" that was nonetheless a "bubbling mess of a movie" that "leaves us more bothered than bewitched".
The film opened at number one at the North American box office, making US$6,710,995. The movie was a sleeper hit, which Columbia attributed to teenagers and young women, who responded to its themes. According to Box Office Mojo, The Craft is the 11th highest-grossing film since 1980 dealing with the genre of witches.
The film is often labeled a "cult classic" and has acquired a loyal fan base and social media presence. The Huffington Post, writing in 2016, praised The Craft for departing from clichés of the teen movie genre and incorporating darker themes, saying it became "part of the 90's teen canon and a cult classic of its own merit." Complex magazine praised the relevance of the film 20 years later, saying it "feels much more progressive than many of the movies that come out today" and calling the viewing of the film "a rite of passage" for young women.
A straight-to-DVD sequel was in the works, but was terminated. In May 2016, Sony Pictures announced that a sequel of The Craft currently in development and would be written and directed by Leigh Janiak. The announcement of the sequel spawned negative reactions from fans of the original.
In March 2019, it was announced that development of the sequel had been overtaken by Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions company, with the film to be distributed by Columbia Pictures. Zoe Lister-Jones has signed on to write and direct with filming scheduled to begin in July 2019. Daniel Casey later joined the production as screenwriter. In June 2019, Cailee Spaeny was cast as one of the leads. In September 2019, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone and Zoey Luna were cast for the remaining three lead roles. In October 2019, David Duchovny joined the cast in an undisclosed role. Later, Michelle Monaghan joined the film in an undisclosed role. Two more casting announcements were made in October 2019, also in undisclosed roles, Nicholas Galitzine and Julian Grey. Filming began on October 22, 2019.
In late September 2020, Sony released an official trailer and announced that instead of a theatrical release the film would release On Demand everywhere on October 28, 2020.
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