You all remember THE CRAFT, don’t you? That glossy, hip movie that made teenage witchcraft a ubiquitous trend in America. It even had an actual Wiccan as a production adviser (let’s hope the new production team hires a technical consultant for the remake; hey, I’m available and I have experience!). Star Fairuza Balk opened her own occult shop, taking over the ownership of Pan Pipes in Los Angeles in 1995 (been there, got the t-shirt!), following her work in the film (she played Nancy, the one who dabbled a little too far into trying to work manipulative magic and paid the price). The film even spawned a very popular TV show that was loosely based on the original premise: CHARMED lasted almost a decade and continued to make teenage witchcraft a hot topic among, well, teenage girls who shop at Hot Topic.
I think there can be no denying the impact this film had upon the modern pagan witchcraft movement. And the film also holds up well as a portrayal of teenage angst, well before the age of personal technology and social media. It’s held a unique place as one of the few Hollywood films about modern pagan witchcraft that, despite containing its share of special effects, sought to portray the use of magic in a fairly authentic manner. It’s been a classic and must-see film of the pagan canon, right up there with THE WICKER MAN, PRACTICAL MAGIC, EXCALIBUR, ROSEMARY’S BABY, etc. But, as often happens with good things, someone is about to mess with it.
The Hollywood Reporter website announced that this “cult horror movie” will be getting a remake. Sigh. I wonder if anything new can be gleaned from the story; but no doubt it will be adapted for contemporary audiences. The article makes much of the choice of a female director and co-writer; Leigh Janiek’s debut feature was last year’s tepid but somewhat intriguing HONEYMOON. A female sensibility in the directing may be an interesting change from the earlier version, but the original director and co-writer Andrew Fleming didn’t exactly shy away from feminist themes, either. Themes of mother and daughter bonds, loyalty between female friends, body image and sexual jealousy all had their moments; and that first circle in the woods where the girls share a goblet of wine and blood, saying “I drink of my sisters” and then share their innermost desires and pain…well, it was pretty heady stuff.
Given that most teenage girls are glued to their smartphones these days, and that THE CRAFT was itself responsible for the proliferation of teen-driven chatrooms, message boards and websites (as the pagan internet was in its infancy at the time; THE CRAFT was one of the first films reviewed on The Witches’ Voice website!), the cultural implications will be interesting to say the least. The recent and excellent film THE SISTERHOOD OF NIGHT touched only lightly upon witchcraft (mainly as a metaphor), but had a great deal to say about the social intrigue teenage girls navigate; I’ll be interested to see if there are any thematic or aesthetic parallels between the two.
But I’d prefer there wasn’t a remake at all. The original is too good to tamper with. The Huffington Post agrees.