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Film / The Craft

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"Oh, relax, it's only magic."

"Now is the time. This is the hour. Ours is the magic. Ours is the power."
Nancy Downs, Bonnie Hyper, and Rochelle Zimmerman

A 1996 teen Urban Fantasy horror film, directed by Andrew Fleming and starring Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True, and Robin Tunney, about four high-school outcasts who practice witchcraft, and how the use of their powers affects their friendships and relationships.

Sarah Bailey (Tunney), 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 (Balk), Bonnie (Campbell), and Rochelle (True), 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 than 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. Chronicle, like The Covenant, is similarly Spear Counterpart to this movie, but with a superhero spin. Constance M Burge says she was inspired to create Charmed partially off this movie; indeed, Love Spit Love's Cover Version of The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?", which would become the theme song of Charmed, was recorded for The Craft.

A stand-alone sequel, The Craft: Legacy, was produced by Blumhouse Productions and released on October 28, 2020.

This film contains examples of:

  • The '90s: The film was released in 1996 and boy howdy does it show...not that that's necessarily a bad thing. In his review Chris Stuckmann even describes it as being like opening a time capsule to the late 90's; the choice of music, the snarky humor, the witches' clothes and make-up, the grungy aethestic and even the way the opening sequence is filmed, are all highly reminiscent of the period.
  • '90s Hair: Sarah has feathered bangs, Chris's friend Mitt has the curtains, Laura Lizzie has Valley Girl hair inspired by Cher Horowitz, Nancy's mother has a messier version of Princess Diana's famous do, and Nancy herself has short grunge hair. Elsewhere averted with Rochelle - who wears her hair naturally curly in a time when hair straightening was the mainstream thing to do.
  • Above Good and Evil: The god Manon 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. He and her mother have a very toxic relationship involving lots of yelling and then sex (which Nancy tries not to overhear), an in a later scene he tries to peek under her bathrobe.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Christine Taylor ends up bald due to one of Sarah's spells. She had guest starred in a memorable episode of Friends where she again ends up bald due to another character's meddling.
    • Robin Tunney had previously slit her wrists in Empire Records. She also shaved her head in that film, and while she doesn't go bald here, Rochelle uses her powers to cause Laura's hair to fall out and Sarah later puts a glamour on Rochelle to make her think that the same is happening to her.
  • Adrenaline Makeover: In addition to Bonnie - whose Beauty to Beast transformation is part of the plot - the rest of the girls' appearances receive more attention as their powers grow; or as Rachel True put it on the DVD special features...
    "Did you notice that the more power we got, the shorter our skirts got?"
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • While Chris was merely just a jerk, he ends up nearly getting raped by Nancy and seems like he's trying to apologise as she's giving him the "Reason You Suck" Speech... but then she pushes him out the window. Sarah is horrified and goes into a deep depression over it.
    • While Nancy doesn't die, she's Driven to Madness and ends up in a straitjacket in an asylum - delusional that she still has powers. This is also after she's been completely beaten in a magic battle with Sarah.
  • Alliterative Name: The popular girl Laura Lizzie. Also counts as Two First Names.
  • Alpha Bitch: Laura Lizzie antagonises Rochelle and has a Girl Posse to help her out. One could also argue that Nancy turns into this by the end of the movie, especially after she uses her powers to get rich.
  • An Aesop:
    • One of the most prominent is "do unto others as you would like done to you". Bullying others is morally wrong and causes a lot of harm, while getting revenge and hurting people who have wronged you makes you little better than them and won't solve your problems, either. Harming others may also backfire on you in some way; in hurting others you can hurt yourself.
    • Sometimes, having no friends is better than having the wrong friends (such as friends who treat you badly, try to pressure or force you into something you find morally wrong and so on).
    • Slut-Shaming and sexual entitlement is hurtful and wrong. Sexual assault is a horrible thing to do to someone – whether they're male or female (no Double Standard Rape: Female on Male here).
    • And the classic "power should be used responsibly".
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Snakes for Nancy. She brings one to the invocation of the spirit and later conjures up illusions of snakes and other reptiles. Snakes can be associated with rebirth and renewal, which is what Nancy aspires for in the film.
    "The serpent is a very powerful being. You should respect it."
    • Bonnie is associated with butterflies. She brings a butterfly to the invocation, is seen trying to hold one when a flock surrounds their ritual, and her makeover is paralleled to a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.
    • Downplayed with Rochelle, who gets a couple of comparisons to fish. As a water elemental, she brings a fish to the invocation and is taunted in the pool by the Alpha Bitch shouting "shark!" (as sharks naturally prey on fish).
    • Sarah likewise downplays this, bringing a budgerigar as her animal for the invocation. Budgerigars are known for being extremely social birds, paralleling Sarah's desire for friendship and companionship.
  • The Artifact: During the levitation scene, the girls make jokes about Rochelle being too heavy to lift. This is a remnant from the original concept where Rochelle would be obsessed with her weight.
  • 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 approachnote . The filmmakers also made up the god the girls worship - specifically to avoid offending actual Wiccans note .
  • 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.
  • Badass Long Coat: Both Nancy and Rochelle sport one on a few occasions. Nancy notably doesn't start wearing it until after the girls have been using magic for a while.
  • Beautiful All Along: Bonnie's scars get removed, so she gives herself a makeover and starts paying more attention to her appearance. Guys instantly start checking her out.
  • Beauty Is Bad:
    • The four girls are given very down-to-earth looks; not plain, but not wholly conventional. Bonnie becoming more fashionable and attractive is a sign of her Face–Heel Turn.
    • The Alpha Bitch Laura Lizzie is the most overtly beautiful character. Losing part of that beauty seems to make her a little nicer.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • It's no coincidence that Bonnie's burn scars stop just below her face. Sarah does make her hallucinate that the scars cover her face though - and it's not pretty.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bed Trick: Nancy attempts to take advantage of Chris while he is drunk at a party by using magic to fool him into sleeping with her. It almost works.
  • Beta Bitch:
    • Laura has one to giggle at her taunts to Rochelle. Also, a male example with Trey, who seems to be one to Jerk Jock Chris.
    • Bonnie would be this to Nancy, especially as the film goes on. While Rochelle seems to feel some remorse for what they do to Sarah, and has more sympathetic reasons for being in the clique, Bonnie seems 100% okay with it and is just as nasty to Sarah as Nancy.
  • Bitch Alert:
    • Inverted. Laura Lizzie's character introduction is leaving a night with Chris and his friends while 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.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: While the four protagonists are largely presented as sympathetic and their suffering is through no fault of their own, they end up doing some rather morally questionable or explicitly immoral things in their quest for empowerment and happiness. The antagonists of the movie tend to come off as worse for their unwarranted cruelty towards the girls, but even then the witches' vengeance against them is not always presented as justified and some of them express regret over the damage they cause (which sometimes backfires on them too). Notably, the Final Boss ends up being Nancy, one of the main heroines who undergoes a Face–Heel Turn, and to defeat her Sarah must overcome her own flaws of self-doubt and learned helplessness.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Laura Lizzie (blonde) has a Girl Posse made up of a brunette and a redhead.
  • Break the Cutie: Nancy, Bonnie, and Rochelle decide to do this to get rid of Sarah. Sarah turns it around and it becomes the cutie breaks you in the end.
  • Break the Haughty: Laura Lizzie is the most beautiful and popular girl in the school and an Alpha Bitch who makes racist taunts about Rochelle. She loses all her beauty and popularity after Rochelle causes her hair to completely fall off and becomes much nicer.
  • Broken Aesop: Much of the film is spent using the Threefold Rule to deconstruct the Asshole Victim trope and show the wrongness of "an eye for an eye". Yet it ends with Sarah using magic to nearly kill Bonnie and Rochelle with a falling tree branch as a "warning", and Nancy being institutionalized in a mental hospital for her wrongdoings.
  • Brought Down to Normal: In the end, Bonnie and Rochelle lose their power. Word of God is that they were just leeching off Sarah's magic.
  • But Not Too Black: Present in Rochelle's plot where Alpha Bitch Laura compares her hair, which she doesn't straighten and wears curly, to pubic hair.
  • Butterfly of Transformation: A flock of butterflies appear after the girls have their first meeting as a foursome. They call it a sign from Manon.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: The school the girls go to is a Catholic one, getting the girls into the uniform.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Both Sarah and Rochelle's respective revenges on Chris and Laura Lizzie are played for laughs at first - see a funny scene where Sarah makes Chris carry her and Bonnie's books - but then become more dramatic in the third act. Laura Lizzie goes completely bald and has a breakdown, which even disturbs Rochelle, and later seems to be much more civil towards her, while Chris ends up trying to rape Sarah.
  • Clique Tour: When Sarah arrives at school she walks around the schoolyard, where she is warned against hanging out with the three magical outcasts. Sarah ignores this warning and ends up getting involved with them.
  • Clueless Aesop: The film attempts to deal with the subject of racism via Rochelle's character, but it ultimately comes across as rather clumsily written, as the film doesn't really dedicate enough screentime to Rochelle to handle the subject in a nuanced manner – the most it really gets is Laura Lizzie making a few offhand, racist comments towards Rochelle, while the rest of her bullying just comes across as more generalised nastiness. Originally, Rochelle was envisioned as being just another misfit (early scripts threw around the idea of her having an eating disorder and uptight parents), with the racism element only being added after Rachel True was cast... and it shows. While the film doesn't botch the overall message of 'racism is bad' too horribly, it could've been woven into the plot with more finesse.
  • Cold Open: The film opens with Nancy, Bonnie, and Rochelle performing some kind of ritual before the opening credits play.
  • Coming of Age Story: According to Word of God, the film is intended to be a bit of a metaphor for the teenage witches's discovering and exploring power and sexuality while using magic. It particularly applies to Sarah though, who out of the all the girls changes for the better by the end, becoming more mature, wise and confident in herself. Nancy also changes a fair bit... though her Character Development involves descending into an Ax-Crazy Wicked Witch.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: In the process of magic, Bonnie turns from sweet caring girl into vain and narcissistic... well... witch.
  • Curly Hair Is Ugly: Part of Laura's bullying towards Rochelle is mocking her curly hair; she at one point compares it to pubic hair.
  • Cute Witch: Sarah is a Shrinking Violet and modest sort whose shyness and innocence make her attractive. She's also the only natural witch in the cast.
  • Darkened Building Shootout: The showdown between Nancy and Sarah in the latter's house.
  • 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 is caused by him rejecting Nancy and claiming she's jealous.
  • 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. Nearly getting raped is treated as Laser-Guided Karma for casting the spell in the first place.
  • Driven to Madness: Nancy's fate is to be confined to a mental hospital, delusional that she still has powers.
  • 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. Sarah downplays it (until the end).
  • 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.
    • A minor example with Chris, who states that his mother (and a puppy he had as a kid) is the only person he ever truly cared about.
  • Evil Wears Black: Nancy wears more black than the others, and her wearing a long black dress and black lipstick marks the start of her Face–Heel Turn.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Nancy going crazy with power is symbolised by her hair being worn loose and wilder.
  • Fake Shemp: Robin Tunney was too terrified to do the shot where a rat falls on top of Sarah during the bathroom hallucination - so a double is used for that take.
  • Fallen Princess: The Alpha Bitch Laura Lizzie after her hair has fallen out and she has to wear a wig.
  • Feminist Fantasy: The film revolves around four misfit teenage girls who practice witchcraft as a way of empowering themselves with their sisterly bond as a coven helping them overcome adversity in the form of bullying, Slut-Shaming and other issues. The girls's use of magic and pursuit of knowledge and power is not depicted as being negative in and of itself; it's only when they start abusing their powers and using them to harm people (or each other) that things go south. In the climax, the main protagonist Sarah seeks help and guidance from a wise mother figure, who encourages her to embrace her full potential as a witch in order to stand up for herself and gain better self-esteem and confidence.
  • Flat Character: Bonnie and Rochelle have no characterization outside of their "freak" status. A deleted scene states that Rochelle is the only black girl in the neighborhood and was shunned for this reason. Bonnie likewise takes an entirely background role once her scars vanish.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Right before calling the corners, Sarah opens up to Nancy about hallucinations she used to have involving snakes and other vermin. The latter doesn't display sympathy and instead remarks on the power of the snake. It foreshadows that Nancy will become Sarah's enemy, and she'll taunt her with the very same things.
    • After the snake man is killed by the car, Sarah is unsure of what to make of it, whereas the other three are excited by it. The others will have no problem allowing people to be killed, while Sarah will leave the clique because of it.
  • Four-Element Ensemble: Sarah represents Earth - as the most grounded and mature of the girls. Bonnie represents Fire - and she was once burned by one. Rochelle represents Water - she's an avid swimmer. Nancy represents Air - she is wild and unpredictable.
  • 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. Of course, Nancy is the only real Goth in the group. According to the filmmakers, this was a Cultural Translation from medieval times - where magic would be the weapons of the underclass. So in a modern setting, the outcasts would be the ones resorting to witchcraft.
  • Goths Have It Hard: All the girls could count to a greater or lesser extent (Sarah attempted suicide, Rochelle is being tormented by a racist bully, and Bonnie is badly scarred), but all are acting under the influence of the most Goth friend in the group, Nancy, who embraces the aesthetic fully in clothes and makeup, and the gloomy mood, while the others are mostly just followers. It's no coincidence that, as the biggest Goth in the group, Nancy is the most troubled, having a reputation as someone who sleeps around, grew up poor and is abused by her stepfather, and is dangerously unstable.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Chris tells Nancy he's sorry and she slams him right out the window to his death.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Nancy is more likely to be seen in leather as power goes to her head.
  • I Just Want to Be Beautiful: Bonnie wishes for her burn scars to be removed.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: During their final confrontation, after being overwhelmed by Sarah's abilities Nancy tries to surrender and apologise, claiming she was just overwhelmed by her powers and will never let it happen again. Sarah seems to accept her apology... but then begins to cast a spell binding Nancy from performing any magic for evil purposes, just to be on the safe side. From the way Nancy flips out and immediately begins attacking Sarah again, it's pretty clear that Nancy was actually just trying to pull this trope, but it was subverted when Sarah proved too savvy / paranoid to take her at her word alone.
  • 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.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Nancy's finally catches up with her when she ends up powerless, insane and confined to a mental hospital.
  • Kick the Dog: While trying to get Sarah to kill herself, Nancy takes the time to taunt her for 'killing' her mother because she died in childbirth.
  • Lady Drunk: Nancy's mother is never seen without a glass of liquor.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Two sets. Sarah and Rochelle are the Light Feminine (both using their powers on others) while Nancy and Bonnie are the Dark Feminine (using their powers on themselves).
  • Lecherous Stepparent: Implied. Nancy's mother's boyfriend is verbally and physically abusive to both Nancy and her mother and he tries to look underneath Nancy's robe at one point. He gets called out on it and told to act like a father to her.
  • Letting Her Hair Down:
    • Inverted with Bonnie. Pre-makeover she wears it down and loose. After her scars are gone, she wears it in various styles.
    • A variation with Nancy. Her hair being worn loose symbolises her Sanity Slippage.
  • Living Prop: Sarah has a stepmother called Jenny who features in the opening, is referenced a couple of times and never factors into the story at all (aside from Nancy making Sarah think she and her father died in a plane crash).
  • Lousy Lovers Are Losers: When Nancy refused to sleep with Chris on their first date, he spread rumors that he did sleep with her but dumped her because she was a lousy lay and gave him an STI, giving her a reputation as a slut.
  • 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 enamoured 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 be this Sarah, but Sarah flees when Nancy attacks. She does give her advice on what to do to stop Nancy in the end, though.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self:
    • A non-shapeshifting variant; when Rochelle discovers Laura having a breakdown in the shower after going bald due to a curse Rochelle put on her, there's a subtle moment where Rochelle glances at the mirror and her reflection looks the other way, implying she feels guilt for her actions.
    • In the climax, Sarah uses a spell on Bonnie and Rochelle to "make them see"; when they pass a mirror, their reflections show Rochelle's hair falling out and Bonnie's face covered in burn scars, deeply frightening them, as they believe it's Laser-Guided Karma.
  • 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 named 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.
  • Monochrome Casting: The film is set in Los Angeles - a very diverse area - and Rochelle is the only non-white protagonist in the cast (and even she was written to be white at first). A deleted scene states that it happens to be an all-white neighborhood and Rochelle is the only black girl; getting ostracized for her race is one of the reasons she's friends with Nancy to begin with.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Sarah has this after Chris's death where she realizes the whole mess is her fault.
    • Implied that Rochelle suffers a similar moment when she sees Laura in tears with her hair falling out in handfuls.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Sarah, both to the school and to magic.
  • Never My Fault:
    • When Bonnie and Rochelle come to "apologise" for tormenting Sarah, they just blame everything on Nancy, claiming they "never meant it to go that far" and that making her think her father and stepmother were dead was "just a practical joke." They don't take any responsibility for their actions, only shift blame, and when Sarah doesn't buy it, they just turn scornful.
    • Earlier, Nancy blames Sarah for Chris' death. Granted, the whole chain of events wouldn't have taken place if Sarah hadn't cast a spell on him, but Nancy pushed him out of a window!
  • Nice Mean And In Between: The three witches. Rochelle is easily the nicest, and most sympathetic as a bully victim. Nancy is mean, as she's the chief antagonist. Bonnie is in-between, as she starts out nice, but she becomes as bad as Nancy.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Neve Campbell's Canadian accent comes out when she says "sorry" in the car.
  • Papa Wolf: The little we see of Sarah's father shows he's very protective of his daughter.
  • Parental Substitute: Sarah receives advice from Lirio, the owner of the magic shop.
  • Perky Goth: Nancy, whenever she's in a good mood anyway.
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Sarah, Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle start out as good friends and enjoy practicing witchcraft together, but when they start taking things too far and hurting people with magic, Sarah feels uncomfortable. The others refuse to listen and Bonnie and Rochelle end up siding with the increasingly unhinged Nancy, tormenting Sarah because she won't go along with it. Although Rochelle and Bonnie also think Nancy is going too far when she tries to get Sarah killed, they do little to stand up to her. As a result, Sarah binds their powers and cuts ties with them.
  • 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. Notably, during the levitation scene, she's wearing short sleeves and no scars are visible. It could be argued that her newfound confidence is what they're reacting to, but still.
  • Pottery Barn Poor: Nancy lives in a trailer park and is referred to as if she's poor. However, she's always seen with plenty of make-up, jewellery and clothes that look straight out of Hot Topic. It's implied she shoplifts most of her stuff, although her stepfather being insured for six figures suggests he's earning more than the trailer would indicate. Her fancier clothes do show up after he dies and gives them a massive payout, and she's shown with a Cool Car as well.
  • Power Floats: In the climax, Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle float in mid-air to demonstrate their power over Sarah.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Sarah to Nancy
    "Oh, and he (Mannon) wanted me to give you a message: You're in deep shit."
  • Precision F-Strike: Sarah drops the film's sole F-bomb when Chris initially rejects her and speads rumors about her.
"Hey, Chris, fuck you!"
  • Primal Fear: The house full of snakes, spiders, rats and insects.
  • Punished with Ugly: Laura loses her good looks after Rochelle causes all her hair to fall out, turning her permanently bald.
  • Rape as Drama: Almost happens to Sarah when her love spell causes Chris to try to rape her.
  • "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. Nancy using a pet snake to invoke the spirit is used as Foreshadowing to her being the film's eventual antagonist. She also glamours hundreds of snakes into Sarah's house just to mess with her.
  • Rule of Symbolism: According to Word of God: the film is intended to be a metaphor about the girls's sexual awakening and maturity via magic; such as exploring themselves and what they're capable of, taking risks and pushing boundaries, reclaiming their bodies, and asserting power. Not to mention the Fanservice-y outfits they start sporting...
  • 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.
    • Sarah tries a binding spell on Nancy three times, and it works on the third.
  • 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 (that 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:
    • Chris refers to Nancy, Bonnie, and Rochelle as "the bitches of Eastwick."
    • A girl called Nancy tells someone "You are nothing. You are shit...and you don't exist to me!"
    • At one point, the girls are seen watching an episode of Bewitched.
    • That "Invocation of the Spirit" book with the picture inside that Nancy animates with her power? The text inside is taken verbatim from the real The Book of Black Magic and Pacts (alternatively known as The Book of Ceremonial Magic) by a renowned mystic Arthur Edward Waite. Although the filmmakers changed the chapter title to make it refer to the fictional deity Manon ("fictional" as in "invented specifically for the film").
  • Shower of Angst: Laura begins to cry when she realizes her hair is falling out in the shower.
  • Shrinking Violet: Bonnie initially. Anxiety over her fire scars leads her to wear baggy clothing that cover most of her skin.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Sarah begins dressing in darker colors and more elaborate Goth outfits as she becomes more involved with the coven. In the final scene, after breaking with the other three witches, she wears white to symbolize her new path.
  • Slut-Shaming: Chris does this to the girls he goes out with even if - perhaps especially if - they don't sleep with him. Nancy's reaction to Sarah's starry-eyed gazing at him implies Chris did it to her. She warns Sarah that "he carries disease." Him loudly rejecting Sarah and claiming he dumped her for being a lousy lay that gave him an STI to embarrass her is why she casts the love spell on him.
  • 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.
  • 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: Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle when their magic gets the better of them.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Implied with Laura, who's shown trying to be nice to Rochelle at a party after her Break the Haughty moment.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: It's said that Rochelle ditches swimming practice to hang out with Nancy and shoplift.
  • Traumatic Haircut: A variation. A revenge spell on Laura Lizzie causes her hair to fall out.
  • Tuckerization: Chris Hooker is actually the name of a childhood friend of screenwriter Peter Filardi. They went to the same junior high school and high school together.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Rochelle. She wasn't actually written to be black but when Rachel True was cast, racism was written into her storyline. A deleted scene confirms that Rochelle is the only black girl in the neighborhood.
  • The Weird Sisters: Initially, there are four witches (four is required to make a coven), but in the end it's bad witches Bonnie, Nancy and Rochelle against good witch Sarah.
  • Trashy Trailer Home: Nancy is perceived as "white trash" because she lives in a trailer park. Her home is messy and cramped with a leaking roof, and electricity isn't always reliable (though this partly because her mother and stepfather are irresponsible when it comes to paying bills).
  • Unexpectedly Real Magic: Teenage girls form a witch's coven, seemingly just as a counterculture act. But the rituals they perform end up having real magical effects.
  • Villains Want Mercy: Once Sarah starts fighting back, Nancy tearfully apologizes and begs for forgiveness. Until Sarah once again attempts a binding curse, which results in Nancy trying to knife her.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Towards the end of the film, Nancy turns on Sarah for trying bind her power (due to her becoming Ax-Crazy) and convinces Rochelle and Bonnie to turns against her too, using magic to terrorise her and outright try to kill her by the climax.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes??: As part of the girls trying to break Sarah, they make her hallucinate snakes, maggots, scorpions, rats, cockroaches, spiders, and the like.
  • 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.
  • Woman Scorned: A portion of Nancy's anger comes from Chris sleeping with her once, and jealousy that he likes Sarah.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Nancy might be Ax-Crazy but she's deeply sad about her family's financial state, and has to listen to her mother and stepfather fight every night. A deleted scene has her alluding to everyone leaving her, showing she has massive abandonment issues.
  • Yandere:
    • Chris becomes one after Sarah puts a spell on him. He becomes utterly obsessed with her, even showing up outside her house at 3AM to suggest they move in together.
    • One could argue that Nancy is a Yandere for Chris too. She tries to screw with him by pretending to be Sarah, implying she wanted him somewhat for herself - and when he pushes her Berserk Buttons she pushes him out the window.
  • You're Just Jealous: Chris gives this line to Nancy. It turns out to be a major Berserk Button for her.