Picks and Pans Review: The Craft
This horror film about a teenage coven in Los Angeles takes itself and the notion of witchcraft way too seriously, creating a tone of fatuous pomposity. But Balk, onetime cutie-pie of 1985's Return to Oz, creates a memorably creepy villain as the spiteful leader of the coven (including Robin Tunney, Rachel True and Party of Five's Campbell). And though there are plenty of routine bugs and snakes, director Andrew Fleming deftly wields a few chilling special effects.
The story is triggered by the arrival of Tunney, who transfers to the girls' Catholic high school and provides the fourth member the coven needs to cause real mischief. Soon the group starts vengefully tormenting boys and men—even Tunney's sympathetic dad (Cliff De Young). When Tunney resists the coven's trend toward evil, the others attack her. The script by Fleming and Peter Filardi is nearly devoid of wit (the funniest thing in the movie is a snippet of the cartoon version of Bewitched). But in the none-too-distinguished annals of witch movies, The Craft casts a relatively potent spell. (R)