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Teen Witches Tackle Toxic Masculinity in Clever Sequel

There’s a mother-daughter sing-along to Alanis Morissette within the opening sequences of “The Craft: Legacy,” which appears to be a delicate reminder that it’s been some time because the 1990s, and that this sequel-reboot is just not right here simply to retread the terrain already explored by 1996 cult hit “The Craft.”

Whereas that earlier examination of youngsters forming a robust coven usually performs like a cautionary story about hubris and unchecked energy, this new chapter, below the steerage of writer-director Zoe Lister-Jones (“Band Aid”), revels in a quartet of outcasts discovering their capabilities, and it offers them an out of doors drive to battle, in order that they’ve one thing to do with their spells apart from get revenge on the imply ladies.

Lily (Cailee Spaeny, “Bad Times at the El Royale”) is the brand new child at school, having moved together with her mother, Helen (Michelle Monaghan), to reside with Adam (David Duchovny) — a therapist and best-selling writer centered on males reclaiming their masculinity — and his three sons. The surprising arrival of her interval throughout class brings a trio of women into Lily’s life: Tabby (Lovie Simone, “Selah and the Spades”), Lourdes (Zoey Luna, “Pose”) and Frankie (Gideon Adlon, “Blockers”), who do a reverse “Carrie” and as an alternative provide help (and a clear pair of fitness center shorts).

After unsuccessfully making an attempt to be a coven of three, they’re delighted to comprehend that Lily is the fourth they’ve wanted to finish their circle, and really shortly they start to discover their powers, from telepathic communication to freezing time to casting a spell on jock-bully Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine, “Handsome Devil”) that turns him into probably the most elevated, delicate, open-minded model of himself. But wouldn’t it, proper when the foursome splits over the ethics of utilizing their powers, they’re confronted with an out of doors drive that may carry them collectively.

Despite the Blumhouse branding and the Halloween launch date, “The Craft: Legacy” isn’t significantly involved in being scary; audiences on the lookout for a wise and subversive teen film will come away happy, however these out for shocks and jolts will in all probability be disillusioned. Still, that is the type of long-delayed follow-up that feels prefer it was made by a fan of the primary movie, one who needs to rejoice and to unbind the protagonists’ repressed powers.

The sequel — which does, ultimately, acknowledge the earlier movie, past the requisite “light as a feather, stiff as a board” callback — can also be a stealthily LGBTQ film: One character will get a monologue about accepting their very own bisexuality that’s a way more nuanced illustration than we normally get in mainstream films, Spaeny’s character is straight however serves up baby-butch realness, and Lourdes is transgender, as is the actress who performs her. (Here’s one magical franchise that acknowledges that trans ladies are ladies, and thus, eligible to be witches.)

It would have been good if Lourdes and her associates had been as fleshed-out because the foursome from the primary film, which was extra of an ensemble piece; this time, it’s primarily about Lily, and whereas she’s an attention-grabbing character, her new friends (and her new step-brothers) get pushed to the sidelines even when it looks as if they’ve tales of their very own to inform.

Cinematographer Hillary Spera (“Run”) affords up loads of autumnal crispness, and Monaghan makes probably the most of a considerably thankless mother position by which she’s caught between her daughter and her new husband, however then absent when the plot kicks into spell-casting gear. Spaeny offers a relatable efficiency (she’s acquired the type of eyes that all the time appear to be taking all the pieces in and expressing all the pieces out), however a sequel can be smart to have her share extra display screen time with the numerous different gifted actresses round her.

Lister-Jones is clearly centered on character, and fewer so on style conventions, so “The Craft: Legacy” may flip off a few of the first…

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