Coming of age movies stay with you for different reasons. Maybe there’s a character who resonates with you or a story that captures the feeling you had when you were in high school. Or, maybe, it inspired a deep-seated appreciation for witches and also scared the crap out of you.
This is what happened when I saw Andrew Fleming’s The Craft for the first time (when I was, admittedly, way too young). Watching four teenage witches embrace their powers, and ultimately turn against each other because of them was a pretty powerful and frightening experience for a middle schooler. It’s always stayed with me. When I rewatched the movie recently, I was struck by the same feelings, but I also couldn’t help but think about what it would be like if it was remade today.
The Craft has become a cult classic since its release in 1996, and deservedly so! It has teenage witches, horror, angst, and subtle (well, not so subtle) feminist leanings. In this current media landscape of reboots, remakes, and reimaginings, the time seems ripe to revisit everyone’s favorite teen witch movie. While I love the original as much as everyone else, I think there could be some serious benefits from an update.
The Craft often has empowering moments for its band of teenage witches, but there are still aspects of it that haven’t aged well. Take, for instance, the film’s main conflict: pitting the coven against each other.
Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney) is the new girl in school, figuring her way around her new life in LA, and at first, staying away from rumored witches Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Bonnie (Neve Campbell), and Rochelle (Rachel True). Soon enough, however, the girls become Sarah’s sisters in ~sorcery~ as they all seek to fix the wrongs in their life.
From dumb boys to racist bullies, self-esteem, and abuse, the girls all seem to be putting their renewed magic with Sarah to the test. For a while it works, but it’s all fun and games until you try and invoke “Manon,” the deity mentioned in the film. They’re warned, “Whatever you put out you receive, three-fold.” Indeed, the girls get more than they bargained for, particularly Sarah, whose natural affinity for witchcraft infuriates Nancy and eventually pits the girls against each other.
In 2017, I’d hope we could acknowledge that this turn of events is actually terrible and counterproductive to any kind of meaningful character development for Sarah and her coven.
In any good teen/coming of age movie, friendship persists through tough times, fights, and the general growing pains of adolescence. Rarely are these friends turned into enemies as a main arc, and yet, in The Craft, it’s the thrust of the narrative. For a meaningful shift in any potential remake, it would be incredible to see the coven come into their own as a supportive, understanding group of friends. It wouldn’t be all sunshine and rainbows of course (high school rarely is), but watching the girls grow and learn together instead of falling apart would be much more powerful. Is solidarity too much to ask for?
The treatment of female friendship in the film isn’t the only part of the movie that could use some fleshing out. While the movie tries its best with Rochelle’s (the only Witch/Woman of Color in the film) storyline, there’s so much potential for expansion and inclusion that could be made today.
For the most part, the movie sticks with a strictly Wiccan approach to magic, which is fine. However, it would make more sense for a remake to include a diverse array of witches and other kinds of magic. If you’re keeping the L.A. setting, even better! There’s an endless amount of possibilities considering the city’s diverse makeup. As long as Brujería, Santería, Voodoo, or any other kind of magic was treated with the same care and respect as Wicca was in the original (Fairuza Balk was a practitioner and the film was able to get an advisor to ensure accuracy and respect), it would be a logical and honestly really cool next step for a remake.
Now, the last thing that would be of the utmost importance would definitely be the casting. It’s honestly challenging as hell to think about potential people to fill in the big shoes left behind by The Craft’s original cast. Who else could send shivers down my spine and win me over regardless, like Fairuza Balk as Nancy? It’s easy to slide into obvious-seeming choices (hello, American Horror Story fans), but personally, I’d like to think outside the box for this one.
Zendaya could bring the role of Sarah to life with her relatable charm and overall range.
Michele Selene Ang would definitely be able to convey the complexity of Bonnie’s character and inner struggles.
Riverdale’s Camila Mendes could bring some of her defiant confidence to the role of Rochelle.
Last, but definitely not least, Madelaine Petsch could be an interesting, but no less fiery take on Nancy.
My fancast is just a suggestion, but hear me out with this one! In the present media landscape full of new takes on old stories, it’s easy to become fatigued. However, if done well, The Craft could make for a promising new film. Two years ago there were rumblings about a remake, and although the only recent word on the project is about a rewrite, it’ll be interesting to see where it goes. One can only hope that it’ll be just as magical as the first.