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Film / The Craft


The Craft is a 1996 teen horror film about four high-school outcasts who practice witchcraft, and how the use of their powers affects their friendships and relationships. It starred Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True and Robin Tunney.

Sarah Bailey, a troubled teenager from San Francisco, moves to Los Angeles with her father and stepmother. Enrolling in a local Catholic school, she inadvertently attracts the attention of three of the school's outcasts: Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle, who also happen to be witches.

Each of the three suffers from a personal problem of some kind: Nancy lives in a trailer with her mother and abusive stepfather, Rochelle suffers racist harassment by the school's Alpha Bitch, and Bonnie has severe burn scars all over her body.

The four decide to use their powers for personal gain, casting vengeful spells against those that wronged them. However the use of power begins to go to their heads and eventually some of them turn out no better then the people who abused them.

The film is notable for hiring an actual Wiccan as a script consultant and another one to play Nancy. But since Wicca is a pretty mundane religion in real life, most of their suggestions were ignored in the name of Artistic License.

See also The Covenant, which is essentially the same premise but with lead guys instead.

This film contains examples of:

  • Above Good and Evil: The god Mannon is is described as such. The girls try to do the same with their magic. It doesn't work.
  • Abusive Parents: Heavily implied with Nancy's step-father.
  • Alpha Bitch: Laura Lizzie.
  • Artistic License: Unlike most films of this ilk, they actually did the research on Wicca before making the film. Since an accurate portrayal of Wicca wouldn't make for a very good horror movie, though, most of it (apart from some flavoring) got thrown out in favor of a Charmed or Buffy-style approach.
  • Asshole Victim: The film deconstructs this, stating that the Threefold Rule means that whatever spell one casts on someone else - they get back times three. Although assholes such as Chris and Laura Lizzie are punished, both their tormentors feel remorse and regret doing it.
  • Ax-Crazy: Nancy, after she gets her powers.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • It's no coincidence that Bonnie's burn scars stop just below her face.
    • Averted with Laura. Rochelle causes her hair to fall out as revenge for her racist bullying.
  • Beauty to Beast: It's only for a moment but Sarah is able to make Bonnie hallucinate that her scars have returned, now covering her face too. And that Rochelle's hair has fallen out.
  • Beta Bitch: A male example. Trey seems to be one to Jerk Jock Chris.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Rochelle and Sarah experience this with their use of magic. Sarah wishes for Chris to like her and initially enjoys it when he becomes her slave. Then he ends up trying to rape her. Likewise Rochelle wishes for revenge on the school bully but then feels sorry for her when the revenge goes too far.
  • Beautiful All Along: Bonnie when her scars are removed.
  • Beta Bitch: Laura has one to giggle at her taunts to Rochelle.
  • Bitch Alert: Inverted. Laura Lizzie's character introduction is leaving a night with Chris and his friends, saying "nice meeting you Sarah" with a sincere smile. However we see her true character at the swim practice.
    • It is however a straight example for Nancy. When Sarah meets her and the girls, she asks to be their lab partners. Nancy says nothing and just glares at her.
  • Break the Cutie: An example where the cutie breaks you in the end.
  • Cat Fight: In the climax between Sarah and Nancy. It's a serious fight, though, and it is not played for Fanservice.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: Par for the course.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: In the process of magic, Bonnie turns from sweet caring girl into vain and narcissistic...well...witch.
  • Dark Magical Girl: Nancy by the end.
  • Darkened Building Fight
  • Date Rape Averted: A love spell gone wrong make Chris so obsessed with Sarah that he eventually tries to rape her by the side of the road when she rejects his advances again when he goes on a date with her. She knees him in the groin, and runs away.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Chris' death.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male:
    • Averted. Nancy uses a Glamour to make Chris think she is Sarah and prepares to fool around with him on the bed. When she is discovered, Chris is disgusted and it's presented as something very wrong.
    • Another aversion could be Sarah's spell on Chris. Technically Sarah is the rapist in this situation, casting a love spell that causes him to obsess over her. And her spell turns him into a would-be rapist.
  • Driven to Suicide: Sarah attempted suicide in the past. Bonnie's comments on Sarah's scarred wrists "you even did it the right way" indicate she may have at least considered it. Combined with the events of the film, this makes Nancy's plan to kill Sarah and make it look like suicide pretty plausible.
  • Dye Hard: In-universe example. Laura Lizzie is apparently not a natural blonde.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: All of the girls (except Rochelle obviously), but Nancy the most.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Nancy seems to have some love for her mother. She uses her powers on her stepfather when he strikes her.
  • Fallen Princess: The Alpha Bitch Laura-Lizzie after her hair has fallen out and she has to wear a wig.
  • Flat Character: Bonnie and Rochelle have no characterization outside of their "freak" status.
  • Four-Element Ensemble: According to the director's commentary, Sarah is Earth, Nancy is Fire , Rochelle is Water and Bonnie is Air.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sarah is melancholic, Nancy is choleric, Rochelle is phlegmatic and Bonnie is sanguine.
  • Four Girl Ensemble: Sarah, the wise one; Nancy, the Deadpan Snarker Goth who doesn't care what other people think of her; Bonnie, who becomes increasingly image-obsessed and vain; and Rochelle, the sweet, quiet one (and Token Minority) who just wants the Alpha Bitch to stop her racist taunts.
  • Glamour: Using magic to change your appearance is just so much simpler than going to a salon.
  • Goth: Nancy. The lone psycho variety.
  • Goth Girls Know Magic: Teenage rebellion and Goth style leads to magical terrorism.
  • Green Eyes: Sarah, and Nancy.
  • Hot Witch: All four of the girls have their moments. Also this is Bonnie's true desire.
  • I Just Want to Be Beautiful: Bonnie wishes for her burn scars to be removed.
  • Jerk Jock: Chris. Interestingly enough Alpha Bitch Laura Lizzie is a female example. She and her Beta Bitch are on the swim team with Rochelle.
  • Lady Drunk: Nancy's mother.
  • Looks Like Cesare: Nancy, towards the end of the movie.
  • Love Potion: Sarah puts Chris under a love spell after he pretended to be interested in her, but turned out to just be an asshole instead. It works fine at first, until Chris becomes so enamored with Sarah that he starts stalking her, culminating in a date rape attempt. Nancy then kills him in retaliation.
  • The Mentor: Lirio seems as if she will, but Sarah flees when Nancy attacks.
  • Mind Rape: What Nancy tries to do to Sarah.
  • Missing Mom: Sarah's mother (who was also a witch) died when she was a baby, which leads her to try to find out more about her. She has a stepmother called Jenny but she's barely featured in the film.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Bonnie and Rochelle bail on Nancy after she threatens to slit the latter's throat if they don't follow her orders.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Sarah has this after Chris's death where she realises the whole mess is her fault. Implied that Rochelle suffers a similar moment when she sees Laura Lizzie with her hair falling out.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Sarah, both to the school and to magic.
  • Narcissist: Bonnie, after her scars vanish.
  • Parental Substitute: Sarah receives advice from the owner of the magic shop.
  • Perky Goth: Nancy, whenever she's in a good mood anyway.
  • Plot Hole: Bonnie wears baggy clothes to hide her scars. After she first starts treatment for them she is suddenly wearing less clothes but then in another scene the scars are back and when they finally disappear Bonnie walks into class wearing the same type of clothes she'd been wearing before and everyone is suddenly reacting to that.
    • The occasion when she's wearing fewer clothes is when the four go on an outing to the countryside. Her scars are still partly visible, and it seems to be more because she's more comfortable to expose them among the rest of the coven than she is at school.
    • Potentially played straight during the 'Stiff as a Board' scene where no scars are visible even in a skirt and short sleeves, but more likely a simple makeup goof than anything else.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Sarah to Nancy
    "Oh, and he (Mannon) wanted me to give you a message: You're in deep shit."
  • Primal Fear: The house full of snakes.
  • Rape as Drama: Almost happens to Sarah.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Nancy gave one in a deleted scene to each of the girls. It takes place before Sarah attempts the binding spell and explains Rochelle and Bonnie's rather abrupt Face–Heel Turn - implying they were scared of Nancy.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Specifically, Snakes Are Evil.
  • Rule of Three: The entire magic outline revolves around the power of "Three Times Three." Meaning once the spell is cast, the caster is marked and it comes back to them 3 times better or worse depending on the spell. In Sarah's case, she casted a love spell. and it slowly escalated times 3. The first time was the spell itself working, Chris became a mindless love slave, that did whatever Sarah said. The second time it escalated, he became so enamored with Sarah that he began stalking her. The third was when he tried to get her alone so he could rape her.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: The girls are Mistaken for Gay.
  • Shapeshifting Seducer: Nancy goes to get revenge on Chris after he tried to rape Sarah as a result of the love spell they put on him, apparently by seducing him so she can perform a Groin Attack (which he anticipates). When she fails to get in his pants, she morphs her face into Sarah's to tempt him, which works. A double whammy, since the love spell means Chris didn't really love Sarah either.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shower of Angst: Laura begins to cry when she realizes her hair is falling out in the shower.
  • Shrinking Violet: Bonnie initially.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Chris when Brainwashed and Crazy.
  • Terrifying Pet Store Rat: The animals in the torment scene are all the usual subjects from pet stores, none of which really react to Sarah. This is playing off her established fear of snakes at least.
  • Token Minority: Rochelle. She wasn't actually written to be black but when Rachel True was cast, racism was written into her storyline.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Sarah, once she realises her raw magic potential, kicks Nancy's ass and cancels out Bonnie and Rochelle's powers for good.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass/Face–Heel Turn: Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle when their magic gets the better of them.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Implied with Laura Lizzie, who's shown trying to be nice to Rochelle at a party after her Break the Haughty moment.
  • Traumatic Haircut: A variation. A revenge spell on Laura Lizzie causes her hair to fall out.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes??: As part as the girl's trying to break Sarah, they make her hallucinate snakes, maggots, scorpians, rats, cockroaches...
  • Witch with a Capital B: Inverted. Chris describes Nancy and her friends to Sarah as "the Bitches of Eastwick"
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: You don't want to end up like Nancy.
  • Yandere: Chris becomes one after Sarah puts a spell on him. One could argue that Nancy is a Yandere for Chris too.
  • You're Just Jealous: Chris gives this line to Nancy. It turns out to be a major Berserk Button for her.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: All the girls sport this look at various times.