So, we watched “The Craft: Legacy” the other night. What a piece of unmitigated garbage. I love the first movie (despite a rather milk-toast main character); it was edgy and dangerous and showed real “sisterhood.” There was a (thankfully fictional, given the story line) Deity figure mentioned (Manon), and it showed the danger of receiving too much power too soon. It also really captured what the neo-pagan and occult communities were like at the tail end of the nineties. This one…well, let’s start with what I liked.
The performance of the main character was excellent and I liked the reveal about her parentage at the end of the movie. There was also a bi male character, which one rarely sees in movies. That was about it. Even the score was crap.
What I disliked: the characters parroted social justice slogans, you know, in place of actual personality, ethics, or soul. I expected a bit of it, but the whole movie was suffused with this nonsense. In the original, there was character development, and the scars and trauma of the girls was shown on screen. In this new movie, it was just slogans. (For instance, one of the girls was trans. Ok. That could be really interesting, but we don’t actually see any of her experience or struggles or personality or journey. It’s just a label to check off). The girls’ sisterhood also goes out the window the moment one of them demonstrates true power, betraying exactly the lack of critical thinking and reasoning skills I’ve come to expect from the left. Masculinity throughout the movie is portrayed as toxic (unless it’s utterly spineless, then it’s “woke”), the rituals are pathetic, and none of the girls are shown actually able to focus enough to work anything, and what could have been a fascinating continuation turned into a poorly written mess. One could have written this well, still with the leftist principles. That’s not what happened though, and it’s a shame, because the actresses were quite good despite being given personality-less characters to play. The movie did show how brutal and bullying high school can be though, in a much more graphic way than the original, which was well done. (Watching it, I said to my housemate: so many reasons to homeschool. So. Many. Reasons).
I think part of the problem, aside from the woke nonsense which I personally think should have been jettisoned wholesale (it became a caricature of these principles, which shouldn’t have been the intent. If you’re going to introduce that, it has to be done well and the time has to be taken to draw out the complexities and characterizations involved), is writers don’t understand the mindset of a magus or witch (used in the traditional sense not as a gloss for Wicca). It’s about the acquisition of power. Any magician who tells you he or she isn’t interested in power is lying to themselves and to you. There is a certain brutal amorality in the best of them. This isn’t the type of character with which the audience will empathize, especially not if that character is female. I’m reminded of a fiction author I used to like, who wrote one of my favorite vampire series (no, it’s not Anne Rice). She recently betrayed and frankly neutered her main character, rendering him harmless. She said in the epilogue that she was concerned about how popular this character was, because he was essentially a serial killer. Um yes, sweetheart, vampires should not sparkle. You wrote a compelling character drawing on a significant amount of traditional vampire lore. Have some courage and stay the course (Gods save us from cowardice passing as morality). Stories with harsh characters, with complicated villains who are not always bad but certainly not good (and heroes who are not always good either) are important, and they teach us about navigating the complexities of a morally grey world. We don’t need a handful of Mary Sues checking off social justice oppression points (but never actually depicting the struggles, which would have been interesting) on screen or on page.
What disturbed me the most, is this movie is all about conformity with your peer group, not independent thought, not power, certainly not magic. It had very little to do with actual power, with overcoming fear of one’s power, with growing into power as a female or male, and even less to do with the much-touted ‘sisterhood.’ Skip it, my friends, and re-watch the original.
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I love horror movies. When I was small, I’d stay up late on weekends to watch “Tales from the Darkside” and “Friday the 13th: the Series” (omg this was the best. It was a Canadian series, unrelated to the movies of the same name, about a cursed antique shop). My bio-mom hated the entire genre, but my dad was, I realize as an adult, something of a kindred spirit. He didn’t like to watch horror but he was fascinated by cryptids and mysteries of the unexplained and things like that. He had a little collection of books on weird happenings and oddities that he’d pour over quietly. I suppose on that front at least, I come by it honestly. Lol.
I should note, this post has nothing to do with anything spiritual or religious. I just happen to be sitting here watching “In Search of Darkness,” a new (?) documentary about horror movies and it is really very good. It has me thinking about all the horror movies that I’ve watched and enjoyed over the years. I would frankly rather watch a good horror movie than an Oscar winner. Oh, I’ll get around to watching the Oscar winner too probably but I’ll actually enjoy the horror movie and watch it more than once if it’s decent. I think the very first horror movie I ever saw – I was seven—was either “Warlock Moon” (it is soooo bad, a really awful movie with an utterly insipid female lead, but as a very little kid it scared the bejesus out of me) or “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave,” a Christopher Lee movie that was classic Dracula. I was so little that I can’t now remember which I saw first. I watched them both about the same time anyway. Needless to say, these were movies I watched late at night after my parents were asleep. I was always an insomniac even at seven.
Now, I will admit as a spirit worker, I’ll critique horror that has to do with spirits or demons or such. I’ll yell at the tv things like, “it doesn’t work like that!” dissect the techniques used to defeat the bad thing du jour, and generally amuse or annoy my husband and housemate depending on how bad the movie is. Lol. Sometimes they’ll provoke good theological discussions (I mean think about the theology articulated in a movie like “The Omen.” It touches on human anthropology, and ideas of grace and free will, getting most of it wrong according to the Catholic framework in which he movies are written) and we usually enjoy tearing it apart. Or they’ll provoke spirit work discussions about technique where we’d ask the question, “as an occultist or spiritworker how would you handle this situation?” (I wouldn’t BE in that situation because I’m not an idiot. Lol). I often like horror movies that show the viewer that the real monsters are the regular people, not the creatures that may look different (like in Clive Barker’s “Nightbreed.”). I also like animal horror like “Jaws” (the movie that guaranteed I will never swim in the ocean. Fuck no. Not ever). I have less sympathy the older I get for the college kids in movies doing stupid things and getting killed, and if there’s any desecration of cemeteries or dumb-fuckery with the dead, I tend to be like, ‘whelp, now y’all have to die. bye.” I find I have to have sympathy for someone in the movie to be at all invested. I asked my housemate Tatyana what her favorite horror movie was and she said “The Shining,” because of how it gets in your head. She likes psychological horror. I prefer “Dr. Sleep,” because of the psychic gift angle. I like supernatural horror provided its relatively accurate. I don’t like comedic horror at all, with very rare exceptions.
Sometimes, what others consider horror, I don’t. I remember a couple of years ago a friend of mine was taking a film class over the summer. I would chat with him and the teacher occasionally and the class was fascinating. They were studying four films: the original “Halloween,” (love it), “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (never been a fan…the aesthetic is visually too ugly for me) – and ok, those are horror movies, I agree. But then, they also studied “Silence of the Lambs” and (I think, irrc) “Alien.” I remember having a very lively chat with the professor teaching the course (we knew each other through a different program that I’d done for which he’d been one of the three mentors) over whether or not the last two qualified as horror. I can see it with “Alien” but “Silence of the Lambs” stumped me. He asked if it wasn’t terrifying and I agreed it was, but it was human evil. We agreed that made it no less terrifying and while I still would class that particularly movie as “mystery” or “thriller,” I did expand my understanding of what “horror” could be.
So, this is how I relax. LOL. School will be starting soon and with that an end to any opportunity I might have for wasting my time in front of what my parents used to call the ‘boob tube.’ Now I turn it over to you, my readers. What are your favorite horror movies and why? What do you watch to relax, whether it’s horror or otherwise?