The Virginian-Pilot
                             THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT 

              Copyright (c) 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: Saturday, May 11, 1996                 TAG: 9605100067


TYPE: Movie Review 


                                             LENGTH: Medium:   58 lines


EVEN WITCHES have their worries.

Someone, after all, might make a movie like ``The Craft'' about them.

``The Craft'' is not only ploddingly dull, it is oppressive and even dangerous. It suggests that rebellion and independence, two often commendable traits, are related to bitterness and vengeance.

It initially suggests that misfits of the world, particularly teen misfits, are entirely justified to take any means necessary, even devil worship, in order to get back at their persecutors. Only in the last reel does it half-heartedly hint that bad girls do come to a bad end.

It's all pretty silly but nonetheless repulsive.

Sarah (Robin Tunney), the pretty but sullen new girl at an exclusive Catholic school in Los Angeles, is recruited to become the fourth member of a coven of witches. She's reluctant but finds that she has ``natural'' powers.

The flashiest of the group is Fairuza Balk, with a ring in her nose and enough black eyeshadow to be the envy of Tammy Faye. Balk, who must have got the role because Drew Barrymore was busy elsewhere, once played Dorothy in Disney's ``Return to Oz.'' Here, she plays a white trash type who wishes a heart attack upon her abusive father so that she and her drunken mom (Helen Shaver) can collect the insurance money.

The girls sometimes amuse themselves by changing traffic lights to green as they cruise the streets. At other times, they get mean. A jock (Skeet Ulrich) who lied about Sarah is encouraged to jump out a window. A snooty teen who shows racial prejudice against Rachel True, the black girl in the quartet, has her blonde curls literally fall off her head. Neve Campbell, the fourth coven member, wishes away the fire scars that have covered her body.

In the end, director Andrew Fleming can do nothing scarier than dragging out a horde of snakes and bugs to writhe around. (Noticeably, only a small portion of them are alive).

This one can't totally be ignored because, after all, it was No. 1 at the box office during its opening weekend. On the other hand, it's likely to disappear quickly.

At an over-long 100 minutes, it's not likely to cast a spell over anyone. ILLUSTRATION: MOVIE REVIEW

``The Craft''

Cast: Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True,

Helen Shaver, Cliff De Young

Director: Andrew Fleming

MPAA rating: R (language, fleeting nudity)

Mal's rating: * 1/2

Locations: Cinemark, Greenbrier 13 in Chesapeake; Janaf, Main

Gate in Norfolk; Kemps River, Lynnhaven 8, Pembroke, Surf-N-Sand in

Virginia Beach

by CNB