For die-hards, no horror movie can be too scary. But for you, a wimp, the wrong one can leave you miserable. Never fear, scaredies, because Slate’s Scaredy Scale is here to help. We’ve put together a highly scientific and mostly spoiler-free system for rating new horror movies, comparing them with classics along a 10-point scale. And because not everyone is scared by the same things—some viewers can’t stand jump scares, while others are haunted by more psychological terrors or simply can’t stomach arterial spurts—it breaks down each movie’s scares across three criteria: suspense, spookiness, and gore.
This time: The Craft: Legacy, the so-called “standalone sequel” to 1996 teen witching-hour touchstone The Craft. The new movie, written and directed by indie actress and filmmaker Zoe Lister-Jones and produced by Blumhouse, was initially intended for theaters but is instead getting a pandemic-friendly release on demand this Wednesday. How does this newfangled Gen Z coven compare to the original in the scares department? Do anyone’s fingers turn into snakes?? Read on.
There is precisely one suspenseful scene in The Craft: Legacy, involving a dark figure in a room, but it still beats Winnie the Pooh. The original notches points for its infamous, freakout-filled climax.
Virtually none in the sequel. The 1996 movie has some bloody suicide imagery, several murdered men, and a gross itchy scalp that I am definitely counting.
The Craft: Legacy basically forgets to be spooky at all until the tacked-on final sequence. The original’s barrage of teen-girl trauma, sacrificial large fauna, and charmingly schlocky ’90s special effects is still pretty skin-crawling (literally, in the case of some hard-working cockroach actors).
I will never forget the young video-store clerk who, in the late ’90s, saw me buying a VHS copy of The Craft and practically yelled: “Oh my GOD, this movie is TOO SCARY.” She cited the cockroaches. The movie was an instant sleepover classic for teenage girls and their wayward younger brothers (👋). A couple of decades on, it’s not exactly The Exorcist, but its horrors—both real-world and witchy—are still pretty potent.
The Craft: Legacy doesn’t hold a self-lighting candle to the original’s scares, but it also doesn’t try: It turns out it is not a horror movie, or even really a thriller, for most of its runtime. Instead it’s a low-key, vaguely supernatural indie teen drama. I leave it to others to decide whether it works on its own terms, but when it eventually does show its hand and gets up to some sinister happenings, it doesn’t recreate much magic.