At the start of the film, teenager, Sarah Bailey, portrayed by Robin Tunney (The Mentalist), her father (Cliff De Young), and stepmother (Jeanine Jackson) move from San Francisco to a suburb of Los Angeles. Sarah, the viewer will learn, is running away from a troubled past, having tried to commit suicide. The tranquility of her new surroundings doesn’t last long. No sooner does she set foot in her new place, and begin to unpack, a man (Arthur Senzy) holding a snake appears in the doorway to the house and scares Sarah; her father chases him away.
Wanting to forget about the unsettling incident, she attends her first day at a catholic high school. There she will make three new friends: The anger prone Nancy, played by Fairuza Balk (Ray Donovan); the insecure Bonnie, a role acted by Neve Campbell (Scream); and the talented, swim team member, Rochelle, portrayed by Rachel True (Half & Half). The girls are a coven of witches, who members of the student body refer to as ‘The Bitches of Eastwick.’ The trio has been seeking a fourth member to complete the four corners: north, south, east, and west, in order to call forth the elements of nature.
The leader of the group is Nancy, who comes from a dysfunctional home life. She lives in a trailer with her drunken mother, Grace (Helen Shaver), and slovenly, abusive stepfather, Ray (John Kapelos). Bonnie wants nothing more than to rid herself of the scars that cover her back. She has started to undergo medical procedures to have them removed by a doctor, a small role acted by Emmy nominee, Brenda Strong (Desperate Housewives). The African-American, Rachel, has to deal on a daily basis with racist commentary directed at her by Laura played by Christine Taylor (The Brady Bunch Movie).
Things seem to be looking up for Sarah. She has made friends, and is asked out on a date by football jock and all around popular guy, Chris (Skeet Ulrich). At the end of their date, however, after she politely rejects going back to his house, he decides to tarnish her reputation. The next day in school, Sarah finds out that Chris has told everyone a different version of events than what actually took place the previous evening. When she tries to confront him about spreading untruthful gossip, his friend Mitt (Breckin Meyer) runs interference. When Chris does speak to her, it is to tell her that she needs to stop asking him out because it’s pathetic.
Sarah has known for some time that she has a power within herself; something which is conferred to her by Lirio (Assumpta Serna), an owner of a magic shop that the girls frequent. For example, one time when she wanted it to rain, she concentrated very hard, and a pipe burst in her room. Sarah, together with her new friends, begins to perform levitation and glamour spells, which soon gives way to more powerful magic. Sarah makes Chris become infatuated with her. He carries her and her friends books, and shows up at her house in the wee hours of the morning, claiming that she is all he thinks about. Nancy gets rid of her stepfather, seemingly, by wishing him into a heart attack. The end result is that she and her mother receive $175,000 from his life insurance policy. On only her second visit to the doctor’s office, for the special procedure, Bonnie’s scars are able to be wiped cleanly from her body. The removal of the scars gives her an immediate new outlook, as well as attitude, toward life. Rachel, the victim of Laura’s taunts, one in particular about her hair, sees to it that Laura begins to lose hers. No matter what she does, the blonde locks she once took pride in, keep falling out. It won’t take long before Sarah realizes the girls, especially Nancy, are abusing their powers. After one particular incident which results in death, she wants no more part of the coven. Leaving, however, she will soon learn, will not be that simple.
“The Craft” was directed by Andrew Fleming, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Peter Filardi, whose story the movie was based on. The film was released to theaters on May 3, 1996. The movie which is parts drama, fantasy, horror, and thriller has a runtime of 101 minutes. Those looking for continuous scares throughout will be disappointed. The film has frightening scenes, especially toward the end, but is more supernatural in tone than horrific. For fans of the cast, this should be an entertaining watch.