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McCort: Light as a feather, I’m bored — thoughts on ‘The Craft: Legacy’

The watered-down remake is masquerading under the guise of a sequel

From left, Lourdes (Zoey Luna), Frankie (Gideon Adlon), Tabby (Lovie Simone), and Lily (Cailee Spaeny) perform rituals and talk about being cautious with their gifts in Columbia Pictures’ “The Craft: Legacy.” (Rafy Photography/Columbia Pictures)
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This has been a doozy of a year. We’ve been rocked by a global health crisis, toilet paper shortages, police brutality, civil unrest, wildfires, bubonic plague-infected squirrels and the threat of those elusive murder hornets.

Oh and the CDC recently put out a warning advising folks to not consume alcohol this Thanksgiving. That’s about as likely to happen as Carole Baskin’s husband surfacing alive and well, John Mayer declaring himself celibate or any one of the “Real Housewives” franchise cast members saying they hate drama and actually meaning it.

But, the cherry on top of this new decade — for me —  is surely the release of “The Craft: Legacy,” written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones and put out by Blumhouse.

A DVD of the 1996 cult classic “The Craft.” (Kalene McCort/ Courtesy photo)

The watered-down remake, masquerading under the guise of a sequel, hit on-demand streaming services this week.

I’m a pretty devout fan of the original movie that follows Sarah, played by Robin Tunney, as she moves to Los Angeles, attends a Catholic school and is quickly recruited into a coven by a trio of alternative teen witches.

I made the unwise decision to watch the trailer for the new film and fell into a slump of dismay.

I comforted myself by sipping rosé and consuming the packet of vanilla icing that came with a pack of canned cinnamon rolls. It was organic, so don’t judge too hard.

While there’s a lot to unpack about the new film — and my comfort-food coping mechanisms — I’ll start with the slowed-down whisper-vocal remake of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” playing throughout the trailer.

The falsetto tune, while maybe supposed to add an element of creep, completely misses the mark and comes off cheesy.

The original film was released in 1996 and its soundtrack offered plenty of grunge gems by Letters to Cleo, Our Lady Peace, Portishead, Spacehog, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Psychedelic Furs and Morrissey.

From the new trailer, we see our protagonist, Lily — played by Cailee Spaeny — having a rather rough first day at a new high school as the camera pans to a large glop of what is supposed to be menstrual blood on the floor, but looks more like a combination of mulled wine and spilled matte-gloss from a Kylie Lip Kit.

(Sorry if I put you off your mini Twix.)

She scurries from the classroom, denim stained in crimson and halls ass to the ladies’. (Yes, that was a “Clueless” reference.)

After school, the girls offer their “fourth” coven-mate a hotly drawn bath whose glitter permeates the violet water, cause nothing says witchcraft and female teen friendship like Lush bath bombs and flower petals. Lily steps into the tub without hesitation, cause bathing in front of strangers is within the comfort zone of every adolescent girl.

One of the things that made the original so compelling was that the girls in it were what you would call misfits — although all beautiful in their own right, clearly not popular, decently angst-ridden, each dealing with their own set of problems and trauma.

It covered the themes of racism, classism, sexual consent, self-harm, suicidal tendencies, mental illness, beauty, femininity and feminism.

In the ’96 flick, Rochelle, played by Rachel True, has to deal with her hair texture being likened to that of a nether region by a truly horrific human — a fellow classmate — who also blatantly tells her she doesn’t “like negroids.”

Greasy-haired Bonnie, played by Neve Campbell, hides behind long layers, as she has burn scars all over her body and undergoes a scream-inducing therapy to rid her dermis of them.

This new crop looks like they could be Instagram influencers — sponsored by beauty box FabFitFun and Forever 21. Honestly, the whole thing feels like a strange hybrid put out by the CW and Disney Channel.

It’s like “Pretty Little Liars” had an unexpected Goth phase or the cast of “Emily in Paris” time traveled back to a Bauhaus concert and hit up the Hot Topic in the early aughts to score some velvet chokers.

Some things are sacred and I want to remember them how they were — like the poster-filled room of Nickelodeon’s Clarissa Darling where she kept a sandbox for pet gator Elvis and the window where her buddy Sam would enter on cue with a guitar lick.

What’s next, a remake of “My So-Called Life” where Ariana Grande plays Angela Chase?

I guess what I’m saying is that 2020 has been hard enough for folks, without the butchering of a cult classic.

Have we learned nothing from the second installments of “Footloose” and “Point Break?”

And, while the filmmakers stick to their narrative that “The Craft: Legacy” is a sequel, from the trailer it comes off as a poorly done remake following a nearly identical storyline as the original: Girl moves to new town, starts new school, has conflict with a male class member, casts a love spell, gets involved with three teen witches who suffer the consequences after getting drunk on their own powers.

For me, a truly cringe-worthy spot of the trailer happens when a memorable line from the original escapes the lips of our main character.

In the 1996 film, “We are the weirdoes, mister” is said by ringleader Nancy, played by Fairuza Balk, to a bus driver after the four girls exit and he expresses his concern over their safety.

In this remake, Lily utters the phrase to her stepdad, who is played by — wait for it — David Duchovny. I know for many he will always be Agent Mulder, but for me I forever just see him as the tail-chasing, Bukowskian author Hank Moody of “Californication.” Also, the star comes clean about his sex addiction and this is how we repay him?

There’s also the unexplained Polaroid of Nancy that somehow ends up in the possession of Lily. It’s the exact still from the original film’s scene in which Nancy corners and intimidates Sarah in a bathroom stall.

The interior of Kalene McCort’s home in October 2020. (Kalene McCort/ Courtesy photo)

Throughout the first film we see these girls become close, yet there’s a palpable level of bitchiness that goes way beyond schoolgirl cattiness and morphs into something truly sinister — forever slipping it into the genre of horror.

The three girls that have embraced Sarah eventually become her tormentors.

Heck, Nancy is truly a rosary-clad, fishnet-wearing, nightmare. In the words of the screenwriter of “Jennifer’s Body,” Diablo Cody, “Hell is a teenage girl.”

What other ‘90s films will Hollywood tarnish with its horrific taste? Will “Empire Records” be redone with the cast of “High School Musical?”

OK, so maybe I shouldn’t get too melancholy. This year did provide us some decent art — like Fiona Apple’s new album “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” that is actually pretty brilliant if you can get past the dog barks and her unusually high-pitch noises that, if were coming from your grandmother, you’d slap the Life Alert and anxiously wait for the paramedics.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday and “The Craft,” along with “Practical Magic” and “The Shining” is prime October viewing at Casa de Kalene.

Despite the pitfalls of social distancing, I am determined to celebrate this year in some form. In September, after enjoying some outdoor — pandemic-approved — dining with friends and consuming a few lemon ginger martinis, I made not one, but four stops to a myriad of establishments to purchase décor.

The Longmont, Colorado living room, of writer Kalene McCort, decorated for Halloween in 2020. (Kalene McCort/ Courtesy photo)

That night, with the help of fishing line, dollar store rubber bats and my unrelenting imagination, I transformed my living room into an All Hallows’ Eve dream — somewhere between the charming kitsch of “Hocus Pocus” and spiritual elegance of Day of the Dead.

Look, it’s called self-care. And yes, a guy I recently had over asked if I was Wiccan after giving my spooky swag the once over.

One thing that I’m not mad about regarding “The Craft: Legacy” is the casting of 19-year-old Zoey Luna, a transgender actor who plays trans witch, Lourdes. This sort of visibility is cool, I just wish it was being done under a different moniker and not linked to the original film.

Who knows, this Halloween — in between eating chocolate-covered almonds and crafting hot toddies — I may just tune into the reboot. After all, the practice of hate-watching something can be rather therapeutic.

You’ve seen “Showgirls,” yes?

On Saturday, by the glow of the full moon and my laptop, will I cling firmly to my preconceived opinion like that fly caught in the white tresses of Mike Pence or will my stance on the second cinematic installment change like the hair color of Sarah, in the original, which transforms with some now-dated CGI magic?

Whatever the outcome, I’ll keep some sage — and icing — nearby.

 

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