Welcome back! As you already know, movies in 2020 are slim pickings, but I still find new content pretty regularly. Today, I'm reviewing The Craft: Legacy, Spell, and The Dark and the Wicked. All three of them are recent horror films and you can buy or rent them through iTunes, Amazon, VUDU, and other digital sellers. Are these films rare gems or did they get dumped on streaming for poor quality? Keep reading to find out.
The Craft: Legacy focuses on a group of teenagers who have mystical powers. They form a coven and plan to use their powers with good intentions, but some of their spells have disastrous outcomes. Furthermore, an unknown enemy seems to be stalking them. If they're going to succeed, the coven will have to support each other and uncover the town's real villain.
I wasn't particularly impressed with any of the movies on this post, but The Craft: Legacy is watchable. None of the actors stand out individually, but the four girls come together quite well as a coven of witches. They compliment each other's flaws, personality quirks, humor, and powers. The film is roughly an hour and a half long and it moves along fairly quickly. Many people don't have fond memories of high school and this movie definitely exemplifies common problems we see in modern teen culture.
Beyond that, The Craft: Legacy is a shallow sequel that's attempting to capitalize on the original film's cult status. It's also an easy IP for Sony Pictures to churn out on VOD. This movie's biggest issue the script. In general, the writing is very basic and almost like a student screenplay. This might sound a bit harsh, but the script literally seems like something a teenager or early film student might create. It's hokey, predictable, and kind of silly. I can't say the actors impressed me either. It felt like everyone was simply reading the script and trying to get a paycheck. This issue was especially noticeable among the adult characters.
Despite having major flaws, The Craft: Legacy might be worth a cheap rental if you're a fan of the original movie or just plain bored. It's not very scary, but the first Craft wasn't a true horror film either. I don't think this one will develop the same type of cult following. Fortunately, it’s probably good enough to kill ninety minutes when the opportunity arises.
Spell focuses on an affluent family who crash lands in the middle of a rural swampland. The father wakes up without his family in a strange woman's attic. She appears to be a Hoodoo healer, but he suspects her intentions are more sinister. Hopefully, he can escape and find his family in one piece.
Honestly, this movie could be the worst release of the year. Granted, I'm still waiting for more digital releases, so there's still time for something else to happen. I appreciate the idea of integrating rural witchcraft in a horror film, but I can't find any redeemable qualities expect the basic concept.
First of all, the performances are pretty weak. I have to admit, horror movies rely very heavily on the characters and the people who portray them. Spell has a notably weak and bland cast who doesn't bring any emotion, depth, or intrigue to the film. The production design is fine, but it's such a small setting. Almost the entire movie takes place in an attic and I wish more of the area was explored. Most importantly, this film is gross instead of scary. In fact, it's incredibly gross and many viewers will find the gore factor nauseating. I have a huge threshold for violence in cinema, but this one just rubbed me the wrong way. It's not even the bloodiest movie in the world, but many scenes are just nasty and mean spirited. I also doubt this film has a PC view on Hoodoo and similar forms of spirituality. If you think The Skeleton Key and a 2005 movie called Venom were offensive, Spell is much worse.
Don't waste your time and money on this film. It was an ambitious effort to bring something dark and edgy to witchcraft movies, but I doubt many people will enjoy the experience. Any number of streaming services have a better selection of horror films that include witchcraft.
This film takes place in a rural farming community. Two siblings come back home to care for their comatose father after their mother passed away. Soon, they see strange occurrences, visions, and apparitions that probably influenced their mother's death and father's catatonic state. The siblings want to escape, but they can't leave their father behind. Is their family genuinely haunted or are they simply disturbed?
Much like Spell, I can find very few positive elements in The Dark and the Wicked. Believe it or not, I was seriously looking forward to this release because the trailers looked really creepy. The actors are doing their best and that's about it.
Unfortunately, The Dark and the Wicked isn’t very scary at all. Despite being pretty short, the film drags with a thin plot and hardly any frightening scenes. It's just weird and pretentious. This movie lacks dread, elaborate death scenes, intensity, twists, occasional jump scares, and other staples of the horror genre. By the way, it's not ambiguous. Some films try to leave the audience guessing. Is this family really haunted by a ghost or demon? Are they just crazy or suffering from mental illness? Eventually, the viewer will figure it out, but the reveal isn't very impressive. The Dark and the Wicked is more like an arthouse film than true horror. It's a string of scenes that were put together and none of it amounts to good storytelling or anything remotely interesting.
This movie is also landing very low on my comprehensive list for 2020. I can understand why this film was released on VOD. It wouldn't have been a successful theatrical release under perfectly normal conditions anyway, so a digital release makes sense. Naturally, I'm not recommending this movie for either rental or purchase.
Hopefully, better films will come out before the end of the year. The New Mutants is finally getting a digital release next week and I'm looking forward to other horror films, such as Come Play, The Empty Man, and Synchronic. It also seems like several Netflix originals have promise this year. Even Wonder Woman 1984 could have a streaming release in the near future. Let's face it. Movie theaters will be closed through most of 2021 because the pandemic is actually getting worse instead of better, so Warner Bros. is running out of release dates and streaming might be one of the final options left. We'll have to see what happens in face of this brave new world together. Keep your chin up, be safe, find healthy hobbies, and have fun with your favorite streaming services. Have a good week!
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