24 years after the first part of the witch saga, the production studio Blumhouse is delivering THE WITCHES CLUB now a sequel that could just as easily be a remake. There is hardly anything left of the horror elements of the original. And yet the teen fantasy film proves to be surprisingly likeable. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: The Craft: Legacy (USA 2020)
Teenager Lily (Cailee Spaeny) is new at her school, having recently moved to the city with her mother Helen (Michelle Monaghan). Here she wants to start a new life with her new boyfriend Adam (David Duchovny), his three sons and her daughter. The new situation is unfamiliar for Lily, but she quickly settles in after finding new friends in her three classmates Frankie (Gideon Adlon), Tabby (Lovie Simone) and Lourdes (Zoey Luna). The three of them are also the ones who tell Lily that the young women have more in common than just friendship. All four of them are witches – and only together can their magical powers fully unfold. For Lily, an exciting time begins between pubertal turmoil, amorous emotional chaos and witchcraft.
This Halloween is all about witches! At least that’s the impression you get when you look at the cinema and television, where not only two films are starting this week that deal with the magical creatures (in addition to “The Witches’ Club”, Robert Zemeckis’ “Hexen Hexen” is also available from October 29th. -New edition to see); The ZDF even dedicates a whole weekend to the magical creatures and, in cooperation with KiKA, organizes a “magical witch weekend”, during which various “Bibi Blocksberg” episodes including a world premiere of the special episode “Halloween with Hex-hex”, the live-action films of the “Bibi & Tina” series and Marco Petry’s youth book adaptation “My devilishly good friend” will be broadcast (admittedly, the latter doesn’t quite fit into the series, after all, the main character of the teen comedy is not a witch, but the daughter of the devil, but who’s asking? after?). Witches do not seem to have lost their fascination over the decades of their appearance in pop culture. Director and screenwriter Zoe Lister-Jones (“Band Aid”) However, the sequel to Andrew Fleming’s 1990s horror classic “The Witch Club” didn’t necessarily have to put four witches at the center of its story. The fantasy film, originally titled “The Craft: Legacy” based on the first part, would also work excellently as a coming-of-age drama without any magical undertones – and would probably even be a bit better.
Lourdes (Zoey Luna), Frankie (Gideon Adlon), Tabby (Lovie Simone) and Lily (Cailee Spaeny) are: the witch clan.
There is a clear cross-reference to the original “Witch Club”, in which actress Fairuza Balk aka Nancy Downs plays a crucial role. But that’s pretty much the only connection between “The Craft” and “The Craft: Legacy”; In terms of content, the latter also works extremely well as a detached adventure drama about four teenage girls who suddenly discover witchcraft powers instead of their bodies and their characters, as is usual in coming-of-age films. But even if the latter are extensively showcased in the prologue, “The Witch Club” is most exciting for a long time when the supernatural elements play no role at all. We get to know the main character Lily as a young woman who struggles with her new patchwork situation because she can’t find a connection with her new stepfather and her three step-siblings. As a newcomer to school, she is an outsider and her relationship with her mother is also slightly strained due to her new living conditions. These are all completely normal problems that quite a few young people have to deal with every day. When Lily gets her period in front of the entire school class and the three girls Frankie, Tabby and Lourdes then rush to help her in the toilet, Zoe Lister-Jones has established a thoroughly down-to-earth scenario that has a lot of identification potential.
“Even though they are already shown to their full advantage in the prologue, “The Witches’ Club” is most exciting for a long time when the supernatural elements play no role at all.”
This is mainly due to the likeable actresses. Although the script doesn’t provide much background information on Frankie, Tabby and Lourdes, newcomers Gideon Adlon does (“The Sex Pact”)Lovie Simone (“Greenleaf”) and Zoey Luna (“Pose”) have great chemistry with each other. This makes it bearable that the three girls are mainly reduced to their witch powers (each of them is assigned an element and a direction – with the exception of Lily, that’s pretty much the only thing we know about them in detail in the end). The only important thing is that their friendship with each other and their enthusiasm for their magical abilities are taken away at all times. And this succeeds. The viewer learns a lot more about Lily. Although her patchwork fate in the coming-of-age cinema is not particularly unusual, Lister-Jones portrays a comprehensible environment of a loving mother who gradually loses access (“Mission: Impossible” star Michelle Monaghan plays this part confidently). and difficult to understand stepfather, whose shadyness is made a little too obvious by “The X-Files” and “Californication” mime David Duchovny. Even though it takes over two thirds of the running time before anything like a conflict from “The Witches Club” emerges, you suspect early on that this Adam must have something to do with it when things get out of control quite late here.
Lily and her mother (Michelle Monaghan) and her stepfather Adam (David Duchovny).
This conflict is clearly the weak point of “The Witches’ Club” – and if the author hadn’t brought it out so late anyway, the film would probably have been a whole lot worse. However, this weakness only becomes significant at a late stage. The expected fantasy elements only come into play towards the end of the film. There is no horror at all – just like in the first film – so the film deservedly received an 12+ rating. However, the youth drama can score points elsewhere: Zoe Lister-Jones primarily uses the witch subtext allegorically and instead tells about normal teenage problems. Her protagonists struggle with loss, with grief, with sexual curiosity, with the search for their own identity and the understanding of those around them for exactly this. In particular, a storyline involving Lily’s stepbrother Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine, “Street Dance: New York”) is remarkably emotional and even contains a hint of social criticism. It is also his fate that is the only one that offers something like a surprising twist. Unfortunately, dramaturgically, “The Witches Club” is anything but original or exciting. But from an atmospheric point of view, Zoe Lister-Jones’ first studio work, which actually looks pretty good compared to recent Blumhouse productions in the second series, scores points – but you shouldn’t expect a classic “witch film”. Maybe “The Witches Club” would have been a good starting point for a series.
“Zoe Lister-Jones uses the witch subtext primarily allegorically and tells of normal teenage problems. Her protagonists struggle with loss, grief, sexual curiosity and the search for their own identity.
Conclusion: Blumhouse’s “The Witches’ Club” may not be a good witch horror film, but it is a successful coming-of-age drama with fantasy elements that scores with atmosphere and sympathetic interaction between the actors and would be a good start to a series.
“The Witches Club” can be seen in USA cinemas from October 29th.