The Craft ★★★½

Andrew Fleming's "The Craft" is a refreshingly woman-centered horror film that engages with a charismatic cast and a tone that blends light and dark. Though the film never fully explores its potential subtext of gender politics, it still results in an engrossing and enjoyable chiller.

A horror riff on the recognizable new-kid-in-town plot, "The Craft" focuses on a coven of four young witches who find a burst of dark powers when Robin Tunney's protagonist enters their fray. The horror jolts are reserved, but the film easily engages with its balanced tone and satisfying story of school-age witches.

Fleming's cast is competent, and his film occasionally boasts a heady atmosphere. The production, overall, is a slick blend of shadow and color. Even pacing ties the experience together.

"The Craft" never reaches the thematic heights that it could, but it still offers a subtle look at fitting in and adolescent trauma. Dressed in suitable horror film shadows, these themes form the foundation for a genre outing that is solidly made and appealing, if a little too skin-deep.