The Craft (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
October 12, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“The popular 1996 supernatural/witchcraft film ‘The Craft’ gets its first High Definition treatment and also one of the few film’s that gets Sony’s latest DTS-HD MA lossless audio treatment. Entertaining, freaky but yet cool, ‘The Craft’ is even more enjoyable on Blu-ray with its immersive lossless soundtrack.”
TITLE: The Craft
DURATION: 101 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English SHD, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai
COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (For some terror and violence, and for brief language)
Release Date: October 13, 2009
Directed by Andrew Fleming
Story and Screenplay by Peter Filardi
Executive Producer: Ginny Nugent
Producer: Douglas Wick
Co-Producer: Lisa Tornell
Music by Graeme Revell
Cinematography by Alexander Gruszynski
Edited by Jeff Freeman
Casting by Pam Dixon
Production Design by Marek Dobrowolski
Art Direction by Gae S. Buckley
Set Decoration by Nancy Nye
Costume Design by Deborah Everton
Robin Tunney as Sarah Bailey
Fairuza Balk as Nancy Downs
Neve Campbell as Bonnie
Rachel True as Rochelle
Skeet Ulrich as Chris Hooker
Christine Taylor as Laura Lizzie
Breckin Meyer as Mitt
Nathaniel Marston as Trey
Cliff De Young as Mr. Bailey
Assumpta Serna as Lirio
HElen Shaver as Grace Downs
Brenda Strong as Doctor
In 1996, with a plethora of teen horror movies coming out to theaters, one supernatural film that stood out was “The Craft”.
The film was directed by Andrew Fleming (“Grosse Pointe”, “Paranormal Girl”, “Dick”) and featured a story written by Peter Filardi (“Flatliners”, “Salem’s Lot”). Joining the two are composer Grame Revell (“Pineapple Express”, “The Ruins”, “The Condemned”, “Eleventh Hour”) and cinematographer Alexander Gruszynski (“The In-Laws”, “Nancy Drew” and “Madea Goes to Jail”).
The film revolves around a group of high school teenagers who practice witchcraft. Nancy Downs (played by Fairuza Balk, “American History X”, “The Waterboy”, “Deuces Wild”) plays the goth leader of the witch group, who has a bad life at home due to her alcoholic and drug using mother and her step-father; Bonnie (played by Neve Campbell, “Scream” films, “Party of Five”, “The Philanthropist”) is a girl who has low self-esteem due to the burns on her body and thus she covers up all the time and Rochelle (played by Rachel True, “The Drew Carey Show”, “With or Without You”, “Half Baked”), the girl who is bullied by her fellow diving team.
The three want to create a coven of witches but need a fourth member. Fortunately, they discover a new student named Sarah Tunney who seems to have a natural power within her. Sarah has moved from San Francisco to a new town after a failed suicide attempt. Attempting to start a new life, she is befriended by the three witches. But it’s not until she gets jerked around the the high school football jock Chris (Skeet Ulrich, “Jericho”, “Miracles”), who seems that he likes to start rumors about his sexual conquest and faking his kindness to girls he’s interested in. And after, a false rumor at school created by Chris definitely makes Sarah want to join the coven.
The four then call on the spirit of Manon and each casts a spell. Sarah dreams that the football jock becomes more attentive to her, Bonnie wishes for her burns on her skin to disappear, Rochelle dreams that her main bully loses all her hair and as for Nancy, her dream is for the power of Manon.
The spells all come true for the four but it’s not until they learn that from Lirio that if they call on a spirit and use a spell, it will come back at them by three times. Because their spells have led to misfortune, the four decide to invoke the spirit. But in the process, by doing so, it has made Nancy all-powerful and now using the spirit of Manon for dark purposes.
Sarah who starts to see how bad things have gone, decides that she needs to leave the coven but receives a warning that if she tries, witches who have attempted to leave the coven have been killed. And thus, the three turn against Sarah. Can Sarah invoke the spirit in order to stop the three witches or will she be killed by them?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“The Craft” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). For a film that was released in 1996, “The Craft” actually looks good for being nearly 13-years-old. The film is not exactly vibrant nor do you see tons of detail but the film does manage to retain the film’s grain and blacks are nice and deep. If anything, outdoor scenes manages to look nice, colorful and bright but for the most part, it’s a good transfer but nothing that would be scene as reference or spectacular.
As for audio, this is where things get interesting. “The Craft” is one of the few Blu-ray releases in 2009 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to utilize an a 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless track instead of DolbyTrue HD. The film gives a choice of English, French and Portuguese lossless tracks but what I was truly impressed by is how immersive the soundtrack for this film was.
So far, Sony has done a good job of bringing out the audio track for 90’s films this year such as “Air Force One” and now, the same can be said with “The Craft”. From lighting, to rain, ambient noises, conversations in the background and crickets, you hear it utilized quite nicely through the surround channels.
The sound effects really are utilized through the surround channels. So, the film goes beyond the front and center channel speakers for dialogue and music. Also, you’ll notice some scenes utilizing LFE quite a bit, so overall, fans of the film will truly enjoy the lossless soundtrack of “The Craft”.
Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Koeran and Thai.
“The Craft” comes with the following special features (all presented in standard definition and in English stereo/English Mono with English, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese and Thai subtitles):
“The Craft” was a pretty solid supernatural thriller back in 1996 and even over a decade later, the film continues to be entertaining and fun. Nor does it try to approach the supernatural or witchcraft storyline in a lame manner.
For the most part, very solid performances by Fairuza Balk, Robin Tunney, Neve Campbell and Rachel True. The film was before Neve Campbell became well-known for “Party of Five” and Fairuza Balk before “The Waterboy” but the crew did a good job in selecting Fairuza Balk (who is familiar with wicka) as the main antagonist of the film. Balk somehow has this dark look to her in the film but for the most part, she did a fantastic job portraying Nancy Downs. It was interesting to find out through the special features that Balk was familiar with witchcraft and that the director and producers felt that she embodied the role of Nancy. And of course, for the role of our main protagonist, Robin Tunney did a fantastic job playing the role of the protagonist Sarah Bailey.
“The Craft” definitely receives a solid picture and audio transfer. But as mentioned in the video & audio portion, the fact that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is testing out the DTS-HD Master Audio codec with this release is quite interesting. I am starting to prefer the DTS-HD Master Audio for lossless audio and for this film, it definitely made the film much more enjoyable as the sound effects really utilize the surround channels. In fact, one time I thought there was a cricket in my house but it was actually from the film.
Overall, “The Craft” was an enjoyable film featuring a solid screenplay, good choice of casting and for the most part, giving an edge to this dark teenage film. Although the film is Rated-R, the film is by no means is “The Craft” a slasher film nor is their nudity. But for fans who truly enjoyed this film, “The Craft” definitely gets a solid HD release on Blu-ray. Definitely worth checking out!
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