Yesterday marked the 22nd birthday of The Craft, the movie that made us want to sport black everything, heeled boots, and own the biggest candle collection. Who didn’t want to get together with their closest friends and play Light As A Feather, Stiff As A Board? (I’m looking into getting the recently released shirt that says this from Hot Topic today).
I found it funny that I had watched this film just last Saturday night and its birthday was only a few days later. I was in a reclusive mood, eating dinner out and shutting myself in our apartment with nothing but laundry and the television for company. I didn’t want to be out, to talk to anyone except my husband who was out of town, and was more than content with watching Jennifer’s Body (starring Meghan Fox and Amanda Seyfried) and The Craft (starring Robin Tunney, Neve Campbell, Rachel True, and Fairuza Balk). When I told John this, he chuckled. “Is it that kind of a night to host a girls-killing-boys marathon?”
I didn’t realize that myself; I just thought about these movies and put them on, one after the other, so I laughed and said, “I guess so!”
There’s such a luring pull that tugs me to The Craft, especially (though I did do a kickass paper on Jennifer’s Body back in college); perhaps it’s the girl power motto of young women finding identity and tying relationships but we can find some relatable point to each character. Who can say they never felt the need to get back at a bully, like Rochelle, or wanted to look as beautiful on the outside as they knew they were on the inside, like Bonnie? Nancy is a character still kept at a distance for most of us; it’s definitely a real issue that many young people go through, growing up in a trailer that leaks in the rain and are bullied at home by an abusive parent(s), but she definitely had the crappiest home life out of all four. Even more, her friends don’t fully grasp the issue, either, probably because she never let them over to her home (or lack of one). Despite that Bonnie’s mother is fairly obsessive with perfecting her daughter’s appearance and Sarah’s dad and stepmom are somewhat aloof and not very attentive while their child joins a coven (seriously, how many of us could get away with that in high school?) Nancy has the gritty reality of living in poverty and even being the target of sexual abuse by her stepfather (we don’t get a graphic scene of this situation but he does grab at her bathrobe while commenting on how thin it is which is strong enough to tell this probably happens a lot).
With all of these issues, each girl with her own roadblock and wish to overcome it, they form a coven, a sacred pact to love and trust each other perfectly. They take day trips to fields to cast circles and call the corners and element as, pass the chalice cup of wine (and blood, not recommended for those wanting to try this by the way! Diseases happen!) and form a sisterly bond that every girl vies for in her own close-knit clique. The longer they stay together, the more powerful their witchy powers grow and soon they can perform astounding spells (albeit kind of cheesy with the hair changing but whatever).
(A shame they couldn’t perform a real spell to make a better wig).
But the girls learn before long that great magic comes with tragic consequences. Rochelle was first satisfied to see her blonde-beauty bully lose her pretty locks in clumps but then the misery of the payback weighs guilt on her as her public enemy is reduced to a monstrous girl who has to wear a wig to cover the twisted tissue of her balding scalp. Bonnie loses her genuine value once she’s blessed with beautiful smooth skin, clear of any scar tissue that once covered it, and Sarah accuses her of becoming narcissistic. Nancy’s change isn’t drastic for her character; she always was sharp-tongued and edgy, but this increases substantially when she discovers her powers are growing. Can we never forget her Jesus walk across the ocean water when they attempt to invoke the spirit? Or the sharks that wash up ashore? How does everyone remain eerily calm throughout this? I would have walked off right then and there.
Only Sarah recognizes the dangers they are meddling into, the powers that are corrupting the others’ minds, uncaring of the tragedies that befall their classmates or the people around them. Their magic and the effects of their spells become rapidly unpredictable, but none of the others can resist the power. Sarah is labeled weak and cowardly and the others immediately turn on her, suggest she leave the school, the city, even the state.
“You know,” Nancy says conversationally, “in the old days, if a witch betrayed her coven…they would kill her.”
This is the only part of the film that bugs me, but then again the movie wouldn’t have its chaotic climax without it. I found it a bit overkill when the rest of the girls are so quick to reject Sarah. True, she was the newbie to the group, but Rochelle and Bonnie seem to connect with her better than they do Nancy, who sticks out even in her small clan of school rejects. They were able to accomplish so much with her but their group dynamic of becoming super close was more than about power. Yes, perhaps the zeal of having so much power really went straight to their heads, blurring logic and reality, but anyone can assume that everyone could have gotten along fine if the rest of the girls didn’t try to kill her! I don’t think Sarah would have done anything to try to break the others apart; the only thing she attempted to do was a small binding spell to make sure Nancy didn’t hurt anyone or herself (a fairly harmless intention). Even in the bathroom scene, they frightened her. If they had left it at that, they could have kept their powers, Sarah probably would have left magic and her witchood behind altogether, and they could have maintained a bleak peace (probably until Sarah either returned to magic or left town after all because of lack of friends). Of course the ending is great; Nancy grows outrageous and becomes out of control while Rochelle and Bonnie become hesitant lackeys ready to help kill Sarah on command.
Despite the hell she went through, one filled to the brim with snakes, roaches, rats, and spiders (God, I can’t stand that scene!), Sarah is triumphant and powerful at the end while the other girls return to their mundane selves. Well, Nancy is locked in the nuthouse, but let’s face it, powers or no she really seemed set on that straitjacket path anyway.
The Craft is only one movie but its the perfect example of why I’m so drawn into writing and reading (watching, too) about the paranormal; the unordinary beckons first a pull, a curiosity, but then it can completely transform everything into a heart-felt dream or a catastrophic nightmare that threatens to shatter your mind. It pushes the limits of reality and we get a taste of fantasies we only can dream about. Witches are only one sub-genre of paranormal and sometimes horror, but the subject in its own right calls out for any individual to find power in themselves, even at their most weakest and vulnerable (hence the scene where Sarah lays dying in her home and calls to her directional power, the Towers of the North, which ultimately helps save her).
The Craft is a badass film that did very well and has lately been making a comeback in pop culture (maybe due to the release birthday, but who really knows why certain movies and books reoccur in the public eye). There’s a lot more to the film and its story than the premise “four outcast girls uncover supernatural powers”, unlike most horror films that are grossly predictable or lack any characters possessing depth, passions, or emotions (looking at you, Final Destination). Don’t get me wrong, these films can still possess attention-grabbing entertainment quality but as far as true meaning that goes deeper than a few buckets of fake blood (tomato juice?) spraying over the movie set, they can be very lackluster.
What was a film that helped boost you into your favorite genre, whether you love to read it, write it, or watch it? Horror? Romance? Action? Historical?
What genre do you go crazy for?
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