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The honest truth here is that most teen horror flicks get stale over time. More than any other genre, to be fair. But there are some exceptions: this is one of them.
'The Craft,' a little film back in 1996, took over theaters in a big way, not to celebrate witchcraft or teeny bopper corniness, but to celebrate the outsider.
The outcast. The troubled teen. Truly...the youth of a nation.
The Craft was about teen girls, one who is notably powerful with witchcraft but not knowing how to even control it, until she meets up with three other outcasts in a new school to discover that they're not so different than she is.
Well, these three other outcasts weren't exactly as in tune with any kind of dark magic. But they certainly had the desire to attain it.
It wasn't hard-tapping into that power source with arguably the best line of the whole film: "If God and the Devil were playing football, MANON would be the stadium they played in...." You see, Manon is the deity here that's central, but even more so, there are much bigger themes at play, bigger than any stadium.
Throughout the film, we get themes of suicide, peer pressure, sex, acceptance, self-esteem, responsibility, and so much more.
And make no mistake: watch the film and it'll hit you over the head. With Neve Campbell blossoming thanks to dark magic, and Fairuza Balk (who coincidentally played a little witch as well in a certain snazzy Disney film from even further back) charming the heck out of the opposite sex and causing certain abusive dads to wind up dead, resulting in a nice life insurance paycheck to propel herself and mommy into financial freedom.
You get the picture here: with great power comes great responsibility as one Marvel webslinger would hear. But these ladies aren't superheroes.
They're damaged. They're broken. And the only one that can make sure they don't fall away into this stupor of corrupt power is Robin Tunney's character, the only one who really has a connection with Manon in the deepest sense.
The lead character was 'born' a witch, not made into one.
And that's where the acceptance theme comes in. The realization of who you are, and that you're okay with it. That you'll also not just be in terms with it, but embrace it and control it.
It's quite a powerful message for young females all over. That it's okay to be different. That you can be you, all-powerful you—but be careful.... You must keep yourself in check, or you'll "end up like Nancy."
Nevertheless, the film does still thrill with the best of them.
We're not watching a drama here. It's not deep with social issues, but as I've said: there are layers. And you can peel them like an onion. As a teen horror flick, it still entertains with tentpole style fervor, coupled with the age of the classic teen movie of the 90s we all loved to love (or hate), but with the supernatural injection that makes you think of something like 'X-Men' or some other storytelling model of exploring differences in human beings.
In other words, the themes don't hit you over the head; but they do caress you gently...as you watch witches battle like beasts in really cool ways.
Yes, the special effects were surprisingly good for the time that it was filmed and released. It's slick and wicked, with colorful characters you might recognize from other notable teen flicks (the cast for the most part is total alum from other films you may have heard of). But one thing's for sure:
'The Craft' achieved the worthy balance of entertainment and meaning, mesmerizing an audience and resonating as well, all at the same time.
And that's a tough combination to match. Especially for some little teen horror flick that was actually released before that one film called Scream.