The Craft Beat Sheet
Released on May 3, 1996, The Craft was an early summer hit that resonated primarily with women and teenage girls. The film has gone on to become a cult classic and an internet and social media favorite among millions of fans. In 2020, Blumhouse released a sequel, The Craft: Legacy.
Screenplay by: Peter Filardi and Andrew Fleming
Directed by: Andrew Fleming
Genre: Monster in the House (Supra-natural Monster) / Rite of Passage (Adolescent)
MITH Cousins: The Witch, Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, The Exorcist, Candyman, Hocus Pocus, Black Sunday, The Blair Witch Project, The Babadook, The Wicker Man, The Witches of Eastwick
Opening Image (1): The “bitches of Eastwick,” as they’re referred to in school—Rochelle Zimmerman (Rachel True), Bonnie Harper (Neve Campbell), and high priestess Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk)—are conjuring some kind of spell in the evening hours.
Set-Up (1-10): Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney) with her dad (Cliff DeYoung) and stepmom (Jeanine Jackson) on a commercial flight from San Francisco to their new house in Los Angeles. Arriving in a drippy gothic house, Sarah is startled by a vagrant (Arthur Senzy) offering her a serpent. Her father chases him off. It seems like nothing now, but the man is a herald of things to come. Sarah arrives at Catholic School.
Catalyst (12): The witchy trio approaches Sarah. They tell her Chris Hooker (Skeet Ulrich), a “nice” boy who hit on Sarah earlier, is scum. She should come with them.
Debate (13-28): Nancy and her coven, with Sarah tagging along, head to an occult bookshop. It’s revealed that Sarah once tried to kill herself, which bonds her even more to the black-clad clique.
B Story (16): Lirio (Assumpta Serna) cuts Sarah off from entering a forbidden room. The bookshop owner says: That’s not for you. This is the…
Theme Stated moment: crossing barriers not meant to be crossed and paying the price. Lirio is a helper character to Sarah and her new friends.
Debate (13-28) (cont’d): Case in point, the vagrant who approached Sarah with a snake earlier is hit by a truck: a grim prophecy of the doom to come. The girls believe that man getting hit happened because of their collective premonition of the event—they’re strong together: North, South, East, and West. Talk about trauma bonding.
Break into Two (28): Sarah agrees to go on a bus trip to the country with her new friends. They all have their troubles. Chris spread a rumor in school about having sex with Sarah; Rochelle is plagued by racist, Laura Lizzie (Christine Taylor); Bonnie has physical scars she’s trying to hide—and lose; and Nancy lives in a miserable trailer park with her drunk mother, Grace Downs (Helen Shaver).
Fun and Games (29-55): They form a bond together of the four natural elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. They are invoking Manon, the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the universe as well as a divine patron of witchcraft. Sarah makes Chris fall deeply in love with her. Bonnie makes her scars disappear. Rochelle causes Lizzie’s blonde hair to fall out. Nancy causes her cruel stepfather to have a heart attack, and a life-insurance policy allows her and her mother to live in a high-rise condo.
Midpoint (55): False Victory. Returning to the bookstore, Nancy buys a book on Invocation of the Spirit. Lirio warns that this is dangerous but Nancy ignores her. Lirio adds that whatever spell they cast will come back three fold, tying A and B Stories together. On the beach, the coven invoke the spirit, which raises the stakes and starts the ticking clock toward inevitable disaster.
Bad Guys Close In (55-70): Nancy grows power hungry; Bonnie becomes a narcissist. Rochelle discovers Laura’s anguished by her baldness and overwrought with despair. The love-obsessed Chris attempts to rape Sarah when she spurns his unrelenting advances. Everything Lirio warned them about is coming true.
All Is Lost (70): Nancy uses a glamour spell to appear as Sarah and fool Chris into having sex with her at a party; she wants to use Chris as he had used her prior to Sarah. The real Sarah interrupts the attempted coitus. Angry and vengeful, Nancy uses her powers to toss Chris out the window, killing him.
Dark Night of the Soul (71-88): Breaking away from her circle, Sarah undertakes a binding spell to stop Nancy from causing additional harm. It fails. Her circle turns on her. Sarah visits Lirio for help. Lirio reveals that Sarah’s mother was a witch before she died giving birth. Sarah is a natural witch, and more powerful than she knows. Lirio takes her to the room where she prevented her from going into in Act One. Lirio tells Sarah that she must invoke the spirit to stop Nancy. Before the ritual is complete, Sarah retreats home, scared. The vengeful trio make Sarah believe that her family was killed in an airline crash. They torment her with visions of snakes, rats, and creepy-crawlies. And then they try to induce her to commit suicide—Nancy slashes Sarah’s wrists.
Break into Three (88): Originally terrified, Sarah conquers her fear and invokes the spirit of Manon, and is able to heal her wrist wounds and fight back, tying A and B stories together thanks to Lirio’s mentorship.
Five-Point Finale (88-96):
After Sarah Gathers the Team (her wits), she Executes the Plan, as she frightens away Bonnie and Rochelle by presenting them glamours in a mirror: Bonnie with her face horribly scarred; Rochelle losing her hair like Laura.
High Tower Surprise: Sarah manages to terrorize Nancy with visions of creepy-crawlies and snakes slithering on her. But Nancy attacks, slamming Sarah into a wall and slashing at her with a knife.
Dig, Deep Down: Sarah tricks Nancy into thinking she’s dead, crushed by a bureau.
Executing a New Plan: Sarah materializes and kicks Nancy across a hallway and into a mirror.
Final Image (96): Sometime after the nightmarish events, Bonnie and Rochelle visit Sarah to reconcile. She says she wants nothing to do with them, and that Manon took away the powers they abused. Scorned, they whisper that Sarah must have lost her powers too. Not so—Sarah summons a bolt of lightning to slash a tree branch that nearly crushes them. She warns them to be careful not to end up like Nancy. The former coven leader has been committed to a psychiatric hospital, raving mad and stripped of her powers. Strapped to her bed, Nancy insists that she can fly.