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The Craft (1996)
Rated R

Starring: Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, and Neve Campbell

Rating:
**
out of
*****

When The Craft came out in theaters early last year, I passed on it. I figured it would be a clone of The Lost Boys, which seemed to be universally loved by every horror fan except me. Not wanting to sit through something similar, I just let it slide out of the theaters without a second look. But, this weekend, The Craft appeared on cable and I managed to force myself to watch it. And, while I may have been wrong about it being as bad as The Lost Boys, it still wasn't much better.

Sarah (Robin Tunney), who recently failed at a suicide attempt, has moved to California with her father and stepmother. She has trouble fitting in at her new school, but is taken in by a group of three young, unpopular girls who claim to be witches.

Each of these girls has a problem that they want to solve via witchcraft. To complete their "circle," they must find a fourth witch. Sarah, who is naturally gifted with psychic powers, is to be that witch. And for the first half of the movie, the girls combat their oppressors by using witchcraft and spells. But as they keep using their powers, they begin to notice that their spells are taking on lives of their own and cannot seem to be controlled any longer.

Sarah decides that she no longer wants to participate in the coven, but Nancy (Fairuza Balk), the "leader" of the girls, turns the other girls against Sarah to force her to either rejoin the circle or to kill herself. Which, of course, leads to the inevitable showdown between Sarah and Nancy.

The movie itself isn't that bad. It's just not very interesting. Possessing supernatural powers, the most exciting things these girls do is change their hair color and wreak havoc on people in school. If I possessed powers like theirs, I would come up with some much more imaginative uses for them.

The four lead actresses are all very convincing in their roles. Robin Tunney's Sarah and Fairuza Balk's Nancy are quite interesting. Neve Campbell's Bonnie and Rachel True's Rochelle are also good, but get the short end of screen-time.

A lot of what happens in The Craft doesn't make a whole lot of sense and many of the non-essential characters seem to have walked in from a 1980's John Hughes movie, which makes the movie somewhat unintentionally humorous in places.

Not a horrible movie at all, but it lacks that special something to make us care about what happens to any of the witches or their fellow students. The special effects may be interesting, but too often they overshadow the characters and seem to be there for the sake of being there.

Maybe I'll give The Lost Boys another shot.

Trivia: The movie features over 3000 snakes including pythons, boas, water snakes, garter snakes, rat snakes, and a 10 foot Amazon constrictor - even rare albino snakes. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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