Four gifted and attractive actresses struggle hard to lend dramatic coherence to The Craft, a neatly crafted film that begins most promisingly as a black comedy a la Heathers but gradually succumbs to its tricky machinery of special effects.
Story begins with the relocation of Sarah (Robin Tunney) to yet another high school, LA’s St Benedict’s Academy, where she’s at first completely isolated. Sarah attracts the attention of three outsiders banished to the margins of the school’s pecking order – they’re described as ‘the bitches of Eastwick.’
The strongest of the bunch is white trash Nancy (Fairuza Balk), whose mother and brutish stepfather endlessly bicker and fight. The other clique members are Bonnie (Neve Campbell), an insecure teenager badly burned and scarred in a fire, and Rochelle (Rachel True), an overachiever who hides her wounds deep inside.
The movie depicts, often quite sharply and humorously, the adventures of tough girls who know they’ll never fit in but are nonetheless determined not to let their peers back them into a corner. Early eipsodes in which the girls probe the dark corners of their minds, as they embark on a journey that takes them from passivity to intoxicating empowerment, are cleverly scripted and sharply acted. The revenge that Sarah and her cohorts take upon obnoxiously insensitive guys like cocky football jock Chris (Skeet Ulrich) are singularly biting.
Unfortunately, pic begins to lose its narrative pull after the first reel, and yarn progressively deteriorates into a series of well-executed special effects, culminating in a power play between Nancy and Sarah that is staged in routine horror-movie style.