Robin Tunney’s Carrie Meets Clueless

A fun script and a superb cast with a bunch of future stars make for one of the 90’s better teen genre movies. The Craft was unique for its time in Hollywood, if a bit cheesy for an R-rated flick with its high school focus. The female-driven flick put a different spin on witches and turned them into likable protagonists, flipping the tired horror formula for them on its head by throwing out old stereotypes.

The Craft stars Robin Tunney (End of Days), Neve Campbell (Scream), Fairuza Balk (American History X), Rachel True (Half Baked) and Skeet Ulrich (Scream). Not to mention Christine Taylor in a small supporting role. Made before any of them were real stars, it’s a perfect cast where each actor fits their role.

Made in the wake of Clueless, which had been a real Hollywood hit, The Craft was billed as Carrie Meets Clueless. Think an unpopular teen girl suddenly gaining powers and set in the harsh world of high school. The horror thriller explores witchcraft from the perspective of a teenager gaining magical powers and foolishly exploiting it like most teenagers would for personal gain. Have a crush on that popular jock down the hall? Make him fall in love with you by casting a love spell.

…a smooth tale of outsiders gaining power in high school and the dangerous consequences when you tinker with powers beyond your control

Which is not to say that The Craft is formulaic and predictable. It’s a smooth tale of outsiders gaining power in high school and the dangerous consequences when you tinker with powers beyond your control. Awkward teen misfits go from being outcasts to feeling special and in control, always a seductive dream.

Sarah (Robin Tunney) moves to a new high school. A bit troubled given an attempted suicide in her past, she’s a girl with special powers that doesn’t know it yet. There Sarah meets three close friends, all outcasts in some way with personal issues. Bonnie (Campbell), Nancy (Balk) and Rochelle (Rachel True) are into performing witchcraft together. They soon suck Sarah into their world of spells and magical rituals, hoping she’s the fourth member of their circle.

Once Sarah joins up with the group, real magic starts happening that gives the girls a taste of real power. They use their new powers to fix personal issues, but soon things spiral out of control that engulfs everyone and endangers innocent people. Suddenly they’ve become mean girls looking to cause serious trouble.

Beyond the tight plotting and smart dialogue, the movie works because of the good girl/bad girl divide typified by the sweet Sarah and troublemaker Nancy. Both Robin Tunney and Fairuza Balk own those roles, turning them into multidimensional characters. They are the movie’s two primary leads and wonderful as dueling archetypes.

The Craft is a genuinely entertaining horror movie about teen witches set in the most disturbed setting of them all – an American high school in L.A. If made today, the R-rated supernatural adventure would almost certainly be chopped down to a softer PG-13 rating and likely wouldn’t be half as fun.

Video

The 1996 movie was first released on Blu-ray back in 2009 by Sony. Shout Factory has licensed that same basic transfer for this Collector’s Edition and given it a new AVC encode. If you are only looking for a substantial improvement in The Craft’s picture quality, this is not the disc for you.

Sony’s original film transfer wasn’t terrible but resembles an older film scan struck back in the early 2000s. The elements are in excellent shape with no degradation, but detail is largely lacking and grain reproduction could be improved. This is a presentation that was pretty good back in 2009, but underwhelms against today’s improved 4K film scans.

The main feature runs 100 minutes, encoded in strong AVC parameters on a BD-50. The Craft’s intended 1.85:1 aspect ratio is retained in 1080P resolution as expected. Brighter exteriors look rather nice with visible texture and excellent clarity. Definition and shadow delineation take a hit in darkened interiors. The transfer is largely film-like with spotty grain reproduction, but no significant video processing. That means no visible ringing artifacts. A serviceable contrast helps make up for the mildly dull colors, which lack strong saturation and pop.

Audio

The Craft’s surround mix has held up fairly well from the special edition DVD, getting ported here in a quality 5.1 DTS-HD MA presentation. There is a healthy atmosphere to the audio design with lively surrounds and actively discrete moments.

The Craft isn’t huge on bass but offers muscular sound for the occasional pop song that litters the soundtrack. The sense of immersion is palpable in many scenes as the young witches get more and more involved in using magic.

The original stereo mix is also included in fine 2.0 DTS-HD MA but the surround option is easily the best choice. Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font. Sony’s original BD did offer far more subtitle options.

Extras

Nearly ten years ago, Sony issued The Craft on Blu-ray with extra features brought over from the special edition DVD. This Collector’s Edition by Scream/Shout Factory is a bit light on new content, including new interviews with people such as director Andrew Fleming and producer Douglas Wick. The lack of participation by any of the film’s cast in the new interviews is disappointing.

If you happen to still own that special edition DVD, keep it for the isolated score. It is not included on this CE Blu-ray. If you don’t care about foreign-language dubs and more subtitle options, there is no reason to keep Sony’s original Blu-ray.

The CE comes with a slipcover featuring new artwork. Reversible cover art is included. If you order from Shout Factory’s website, a free 18″ x 24″ poster of the new artwork is included while supplies last.

Audio Commentary With Director Andrew Fleming – An older commentary made by the director for the special edition DVD. A fine discussion with behind-the-scenes anecdotes.

Interview With Director Andrew Fleming (15:12 in HD) – Fleming recalls his contributions as co-writer and casting his stars in this informative new interview.

Interview With Producer Douglas Wick (13:28 in HD) – A new interview by Shout Factory that discusses how the movie was initially pitched and Wick’s experiences getting the movie made when Hollywood executives were nervous the movie had no stars.

Interview With Co-writer Peter Filardi (10:44 in HD) – Part of the new interviews, Filardi had been working on a script about teenage satanists when he got the call for this horror movie.

Interview With Make-up Effects Supervisor Tony Gardner (11:02 in HD)

“Conjuring The Craft” Featurette (24:35 in SD) – An older archival featurette that interviews the cast and director, going behind the scenes. Fairly typical making-of documentary stuff from the 2000s.

“The Making of The Craft” Featurette (05:59 in SD) – A fluffy EPK featurette from the movie’s early days on home video.

The Craft Theatrical Trailer (01:50 in SD)

Deleted Scenes (06:36 in SD) – Including optional audio commentary by director Andrew Fleming, three small deleted scenes are included.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Craft
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

A teen horror gem from the 1990s with a superb cast of future stars getting their magic on in high school.

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5 (1 vote)

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