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‘Loving and Cruel, All at the Same Time’: Girlhood Identity in The Craft

Emily Chandler

Keywords: aggression; friendship; horror; niceness; teen film

Abstract

The teen horror film The Craft (1996) has remained a cult classic with girl audiences

for two decades. Scholarship about the film has focused on its negative representation

of girls’ friendships, sexuality, and desire for power. In this article, I

honor the significance of girl culture by accounting for The Craft’s appeal to girl

audiences. I argue that The Craft’s relevance to girls arises from its subversion of

teen film tropes. The Craft explores adolescent girls’ fear of isolation by depicting

a mentally ill teenager who draws strength and happiness from the company of

her friends, and becomes depressed when they oust her. By flouting the imperative

for adolescent girl protagonists to be white, middle-class, mentally healthy, and

normatively bodied, The Craft portrays girls’ desire for understanding over the

pursuit of so-called popularity, girls’ anger arising from marginalization, and girls’

exploiting of friendship as a weapon.

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