Review: ‘The Craft: Legacy,’ starring Cailee Spaeny, Zoey Luna, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, David Duchovny and Michelle Monaghan

October 28, 2020

by Carla Hay

Lovie Simone, Gideon Adlon, Cailee Spaeny and Zoey Luna in “The Craft: Legacy” (Photo courtesy of Rafy Photography/Columbia Pictures)

“The Craft: Legacy” 

Directed by Zoe Lister-Jones

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city, “The Craft: Legacy” features a predominantly white cast (with some Latinos and African Americans) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: Four teenage witches use their witchcraft to turn a school bully into a politically correct, enlightened person, but they find out these actions cause a major backlash.

Culture Audience: “The Craft: Legacy” will appeal primarily to people who like stories about witches that play it very safe. 

David Duchovny, Michelle Monaghan and Cailee Spaeny in “The Craft: Legacy” (Photo courtesy of Rafy Photography/Columbia Pictures)

Just like Blumhouse Productions’ 2019 remake of the sorority horror flick “Black Christmas,” the foundation of Blumhouse Productions’ 2020 teenage witch film “The Craft: Legacy” (a reimagining of the 1996 movie “The Craft”) is about empowering women in the #MeToo feminist era. But “The Craft: Legacy” (written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones) makes the same mistake that the 2019 remake of “Black Christmas” did: By telegraphing these feminist intentions so early in the movie, it’s very easy to figure out who the “villains” are in the story.

The heavy-handed preachiness of “The Craft: Legacy” would be easier to take if the movie delivered a better story that wasn’t filled with major plot holes and had a more consistent tone. This movie needed more horror gravitas and more impressive visual effects instead of ill-suited comedic bits and cheap-looking visual effects that weaken the story’s message.

There are parts of “The Craft: Legacy” that work fairly well: The cast members do adequately good jobs in their roles, and there’s a realistic handling of awkward issues in blended families. But too many other parts of the movie don’t work well at all and are at times quite dull and predictable.

“Black Christmas” and its remakes at least made concerted efforts to be terrifying. By contrast, “The Craft: Legacy,” which obviously has a younger audience in mind than an adult-oriented slasher flick like “Black Christmas,” only has mild scares that are disappointing and often take a back seat to the movie wanting to look more like a teen drama than a horror film. That doesn’t mean that “The Craft: Legacy” had to have a lot of gore, but there are several noteworthy horror movies that are suitable for underage audiences and are still able to be effectively terrifying. Some examples include 1982’s “Poltergeist,” 2001’s “The Others” and 2002’s “The Ring.”

The basic premise of “The Craft” remains intact in “The Craft: Legacy.” Three teenage witches, who are social outcasts at their high school in an unnamed U.S. city, are powerless because they need a fourth witch to complete the circle of their coven. They find out that a new outsider girl at their school is also a witch, and they invite her to join their coven. The four teen witches then use their newfound magical powers to make their wishes come true and get revenge on people who hurt them in some way. The “new girl” is the story’s main protagonist.

In “The Craft,” Neve Campbell, Fairuza Balk, and Rachel True were the original trio of witches, while Robin Tunney played the “new girl” invited into the coven. In “The Craft: Legacy,” the “new girl” is Lily Schechner (played by Cailee Spaeny), while the original coven trio consists of sassy transgender Lourdes (played by Zoey Luna), goofy jokester Frankie (played by Gideon Adlon) and Afrocentric-minded Tabby (played by Lovie Simone).

Spaeny gets the most screen time of the four, and she does a fairly good job in portraying Lily’s angst, although she’s not as assertive as Tunney’s “newbie” character in “The Craft.” Lily is the only one of the four witches whose home life and family are shown in the movie. It’s a big change from the 1996 “The Craft,” where viewers got to see the home lives and family members of three out of the four witches.

Luna is memorable as Lourdes, the member of the coven who’s the most emotionally mature and the unofficial “alpha female” of the group. Adlon will either delight or annoy people with how she portrays Frankie, whose hyperactive and somewhat ditzy energy can get on people’s nerves after a while. Just like True’s character in “The Craft” movie, Simone plays the “supportive friend” whose personality is overshadowed by the other members of the coven.

“The Craft” was set in a private Catholic school where the students had to wear uniforms, whereas “The Craft: Legacy” is set in a regular public school. It’s a change of setting that alters the impact of what being an “outsider” in the school really means. Someone who wears Goth makeup (as does one of the teenage witches in each “Craft” movie) and who’s suspected of being a witch is less likely to be a considered a rebel or an outcast at a public school, compared to a private Catholic school with strict policies about religion, hair, clothes and makeup.

Because the school in the original “The Craft” movie was a private institution, there was more of an elitist aura to the school, which made the teen witches’ “outsider” status a little bit more socially dangerous for them at the school. The World Wide Web was fairly new in the mid-1990s. Social media and smartphones didn’t exist back then. Therefore, the teen witches of “The Craft” probably felt more isolated for being “different” than they would be in modern times when they could find other like-minded people on the Internet.

In “The Craft: Legacy,” social media is not seen or mentioned at all, which is probably writer/director Lister-Jones’ way of trying not to make the movie look too dated when it’s viewed years from now. In fact, the movie has several “throwback” nods to pop culture from a past era. For example, during a car ride, Lily and her mother sing Alanis Morissette’s 1995 hit “Hand in My Pocket.” And in multiple scenes, Lourdes uses a Polaroid camera.

Lily is a pixie-ish and introverted only child who has recently moved to the area with her single mother Helen Schechner (played by Michelle Monaghan), who is a therapist from New Jersey. Lily mentions later in the story that she doesn’t know who her father is, and Helen has never told her. Helen and Lily have relocated because Helen is moving in with her boyfriend Adam Harrison (played by David Duchovny), a motivational speaker/author whose specialty is giving empowering advice and self-help therapy for men.

Adam has three teenage sons, who are introduced to Lily for the first time on the day that Lily and Helen arrive to move into their two-story house. Oldest son Isaiah (played by Donald MacLean Jr.) is about 17 years old. Middle son Jacob (played by Charles Vandervaart) is about 16 years old. Youngest son Abe (played by Julian Grey) is about 14 years old. People who see this movie and have knowledge of Judeo-Christian history will notice right away how biblical these names are.

Isaiah is a “strong, silent type” who’s somewhat of an enigma. Jacob is a popular but brooding heartthrob at school. (Goofball witch Frankie has a mild crush on Jacob.) Abe seems to be the kindest and most sensitive of the three brothers, and he’s the only one of the brothers to attempt to befriend Lily. It’s strange that Helen and Adam would wait until move-in day for their children to meet each other for the first time, but there are stranger things that have happened in real life.

Meanwhile, although Adam isn’t overtly sexist, he is very much about male bonding and men’s rights. Living with two females in the house is quite an adjustment for him and his sons. (The mother of Adam’s sons is not seen or mentioned in the movie.) Adam spends a lot of time traveling to host male-only retreats, where he helps men get in touch with their masculinity and innermost feelings. Adam has a mantra that he instills in his sons and his followers: “Power is order.”

Lily’s mother Helen has a different view of power: She constantly tells Lily, “Your differences are your power.” It’s clear that Lily and Helen both know that Lily has supernatural powers, but Lily hasn’t been able to harness those powers for anything major that would fully expose her for being a witch. That is, until she joins the coven.

Adam has gotten notoriety for a book called “Hollowed Masculinity,” which basically preaches that men shouldn’t be afraid of or apologetic for being dominant leaders. One day, while Lily is getting to know the different rooms in her new home, she goes in the home’s study/library and sees the book. When she picks up the book, she drops it quickly, as if the book could’ve burned her. This movie is not subtle at all.

Just like in “The Craft,” there’s a school bully who gets put under a spell by the witches. In “The Craft: Legacy,” the bully’s name is Timmy (played by Nicholas Galitzine), and he happens to be Jacob’s best friend. Lily has a humiliating experience in her first day at the school, when she gets her menstrual period while she’s sitting down at a desk in class. Lily doesn’t know that she’s gotten her period until Timmy announces it and points out the blood on the floor to everyone in the class. “Did you drop something?” Timmy sneers. And then he cruelly adds, “It looks like a crime scene.”

A mortified Lily runs into a restroom and locks herself into a stall to clean up after herself. And she’s soon followed by Lourdes, Frankie and Tabby, who give her sympathy and tell Lily that Timmy has bullied them too. Tabby offers her gym shorts for Lily to wear, since Lily’s jeans are too bloody to put back on again. It’s a generous and kind gesture that goes a long way, because Lily ultimately befriends this trio.

Another big difference between “The Craft” and “The Craft: Legacy” is that the newcomer fourth witch joins the coven a lot quicker in “The Craft: Legacy.” Lily becomes a part of their group within a few days of knowing Lourdes, Frankie and Tabby. They begin to suspect that Lily’s a witch when Timmy taunts Lily again in the school hallway, and she’s able to throw Timmy up against a locker and make him fall down, just by using her mind. This incident puts both Timmy and Lily in detention.

While she’s in detention, Lily begins to hear the voices of the other witches talking to her in her mind. They tell her to meet them in a hallway restroom, and she does. And that’s how Lourdes, Frankie and Tabby are able to confirm that Lily is a witch too. Not long after that, all of four of them start doing spell experiments, such as levitating, before they decide to unleash their full powers. And just like in the first “Craft” movie, snakes and butterflies are in some scenes in the movie where supernatural things happen.

One of the frustrating things about “The Craft: Legacy” is that it doesn’t really expound on the unique powers that each witch has in this coven. Lourdes represents the north, with her power derived from the earth. Frankie’s power represents the east, with her power derived from air. Tabby’s power represents the south, with her power derived from fire. And to complete the circle, Lily’s power represents the west, with her power derived from water.

You would think that these specific powers would be incorporated more into the spells that they cast on people. But aside from some cutesy colors that swirl around when they chant, their unique powers are all talk and almost no action. There are lots of ways to cause witchcraft terror by using the earth, air, fire or water, but those avenues are not fully explored in this movie. Maybe the movie’s budget was too low for the visual effects that would be needed.

And speaking of visual effects, the witch characters in “The Craft: Legacy” mention being fans of the 2008 teen vampire film “Twilight” multiple times. And it’s somewhat ironic, because the much-ridiculed “sparkling vampire” aspects of “Twilight” get sort of a nod in “The Craft: Legacy,” in scenes where there are sparkly effects around the witches, most notably when Lily takes a bath in sparkly purple water.

It’s an aesthetic that’s more like “My Little Pony” instead of “Mistress of the Dark,” and it’s really hard to take “The Craft: Legacy” seriously as a horror movie at that point. There are scenes in the Disney movie “Maleficent” that are scarier than “The Craft: Legacy,” and that’s a major disappointment because Blumhouse movies shouldn’t skimp on the scares.

Another aspect of the film that’s dangled in front of viewers and never quite comes to fruition is that it’s mentioned fairly early on that the foursome coven will get to enact four stages of their full powers: Stage One is telekinesis. Stage Two is mind infiltration. Stage Four is shapeshifting. Frankie tells Lily that Stage Three will be revealed later. But that reveal is another big disappointment. And the shapeshifting (which was used to great effect in the 1996 “Craft” movie) becomes an abandoned idea for the witches in “The Craft: Legacy.”

Whereas the original “Craft” movie had the over-the-top, unhinged performance of Balk as the “loose cannon” witch of the group, there is no such unpredictable personality in this “Craft: Legacy” coven. In fact, all of the witches in this coven are extremely cautious of not going too far to hurt people. If you can believe it, these witches are too politically correct, which doesn’t really work in a story that’s supposed to be about teen witches who want to get revenge on people who’ve tormented them.

Instead of a variety of individual spells that made the original “Craft” movie entertaining to watch, the story of “The Craft: Legacy” focuses on one big group spell, which they put on Timmy. After the spell, he goes from being a sexist bully to a “woke” guy who’s a walking stereotype of an uber-sensitive, progressive liberal. While that mindset might be scary to people on certain ends of the political spectrum, this movie should have been more about horror instead of the political leanings of people who aren’t even old enough to vote.

“The Craft” had a spell put on the class bully so that he would be lovesick over the newbie witch. “The Craft: Legacy” goes one step further and makes the reformed bully not only a potential love interest for the newbie witch (Lily), but he also becomes a feminist who would rather pal around with all four of the witches than hang out with his male buddies. It’s the movie’s way of saying that men can be feminists too, but the message ultimately isn’t that great if the only way a male in this story becomes an “enlightened” feminist is if he’s “tricked” into it by a witch’s spell.

Galitzine is quite good in his role as Timmy, who goes through this drastic personality change. One of the best scenes in the movie is when Timmy and his four new gal pals hang out together and confess some of their biggest secrets. Timmy’s biggest secret is one of the movie’s few major surprises. It’s an emotional scene, but it’s completely different from the “jokey teen antics” tone that the movie was going for in the first half of the film.

After Timmy’s secret is revealed, things take a dark turn in the movie, which would’ve benefited from a dark tone from the beginning. But by the time the big showdown happens at the end of the movie, there are two major plot holes that just can’t redeem this disappointing film.

The first major plot hole involves a “bound spell” that prevents a witch or witches from casting any more spells to do harm. And yet during the big showdown, this “bound spell” is completely forgotten in the plot, as if it never happened. The second big plot hole involves the reveal of the chief villain, who should have several allies in the movie’s climactic showdown, but the villain inexplicably and strangely is the only adversary in this big fight.

And this crucial action sequence in the movie is more talk than suspenseful action. The action just brings more sparkles instead of true terror. There are other parts of the movie that are even more tedious and might induce boredom or the urge to go to sleep.

There’s a “surprise” cameo at the end of the film that isn’t much of a surprise. (And if people really want to know who does this cameo, it’s not a secret, because this person’s name is in the Internet Movie Database list of cast members for “The Craft: Legacy.“) The cameo isn’t that big of a deal because this person does not speak any lines in the movie and is only seen in the last few seconds of the film.

“The Craft: Legacy” seems to have had the right intentions when it was conceived as an updated version of “The Craft.” But somewhere along the way, the filmmakers made the mistake of diminishing the horror of the original “Craft” movie and making “The Craft: Legacy” more of a sparkly teen soap opera.

Columbia Pictures released “The Craft: Legacy” on digital and VOD October 28, 2020.

Review: ‘Selah and the Spades,’ starring Lovie Simone, Celeste O’Connor and Jharrel Jerome

April 17, 2020

by Carla Hay

Celeste O’Connor, Lovie Simone and Jharrel Jerome in “Selah and the Spades” (Photo by Ashley Bean/Amazon Studios)

“Selah and the Spades”

Directed by Tayarisha Poe

Culture Representation: Taking place at an elite co-ed boarding high school in Pennsylvania, the grim drama “Selah and the Spades” has a racially diverse cast of characters (African American and white) who represent the upper-class.

Culture Clash: The rebellious teenagers at the school have intense social rivalries, as they try to hide their law-breaking activities from adults.

Culture Audience: “Selah and the Spades” will appeal mostly to people who like movies about teenagers behaving badly, but most of the characters’ personalities are shallow and underwritten.

Lovie Simone in “Selah and the Spades” (Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios)

“Selah and the Spades” is about a group of privileged and rebellious teenagers who weren’t even born when the 1988 dark comedy film “Heathers” was first released, but the basic concept of “Selah and the Spades” draws a lot from the “Heathers” template, without the winning charm of “Heathers.” The idea is the same: A new “outsider” girl enrolls in a high school and finds herself being accepted into the “cool kids” clique at the top of the school’s social ladder, led by a stuck-up “queen bee.” The “new girl” is a quirky, creative type, while the “queen bee” is cold and power-hungry.

One of the main differences between the two movies is that “Heathers” told the story from the perspective of the new girl, while “Selah and the Spades” (the first feature film written and directed by Tayarisha Poe) tells the story from the perspective of the queen bee. Unfortunately, for “Selah and the Spades,” the movie is as humorless and pretentious as its central character. The other main difference between the two movies is that “Heathers” took place in a predominantly white public high school (with people of different social classes), while “Selah and the Spades” takes place at an elite, racially diverse boarding school where the members of the school’s most powerful clique all happen to be African American.

“Selah and the Spades” exists in a world where, unrealistically, race is never mentioned or addressed. It might seem like writer/director Poe did something different or edgy by creating a world where African American students rule the social hierarchy at an elite boarding school, but these African Americans are also the school’s drug dealers, which puts them in the same ghetto mindset and criminal category that numerous other movies and TV shows have put African Americans. In other words, Poe might have changed the setting to a boarding school, but making the central characters drug-dealing African Americans is completely unoriginal and panders to negative stereotypes.

“Selah and the Spades” takes place during the spring season at the fictional Haldwell School for Boarding and Day Students, located in an unnamed U.S. city in Pennsylvania. (The movie was actually filmed in Massachusetts.) An unseen teenage narrator (voiced by Jessie Cannizzaro) explains the social structure of the school’s vice-motivated “underground rebels,” which consists of five factions. At the top of the heap are The Spades, led by 17-year-old high-school senior Selah Summers (played by Lovie Simone) and her right-hand guy Maxxie Ayoade (played by Jharrel Jerome, the Emmy-winning star of Netflix’s “When They See Us”), who are the aforementioned drug dealers.

The Seed, a group of former teacher’s pets who’ve gone rogue and engage in cheating, is led by Tarit Toll Perelstein (played by Henry Hunter Hall). The Skins, whose specialty is gambling, are led by Amber Bolfo (played by Francesca Noel). The Prefects, who make the school’s administration “blissfully unaware” of these students’ illegal activities, are led by Thomas Richard Thomas III, also known as Two Tom (played by Evan Roe). The Bobbies, who throw illegal parties, are led by Roberta “Bobby” Pellegrino (played by Anna Mulvoy Ten).

These five factions (which total about 20 students) have outdoor meetings at a school picnic table, where Selah (pronounced “sell-ah,” perhaps a play on words, since she’s a drug seller) leads the meetings with a haughty, imperious manner. There’s constant friction between Selah and Bobby, who is the only other faction leader to question Selah’s authority. It makes sense that these two faction leaders would butt heads, since The Bobbies are in charge of the parties, which need the drugs that The Spades provide.

There are only two adult characters with significant speaking roles in “Selah and the Spades,” and they both represent despised authority figures in Selah’s life.

The first is  Selah’s demanding mother, Maybelle Summers (played by Gina Torres), the only person in the story who can make Selah feel powerless. Maybelle is the type of parent who, when Selah tells her that she scored a 93 out of 100 percent on a recent test, will ask what happened with the other 7 percent instead of congratulating her daughter on the high score. Maybelle also berates Selah by saying, “You’re starting to sound like your father,” when Selah makes excuses for why she didn’t score 100 on the test. (Selah’s father or stepfather is briefly shown kissing Maybelle goodbye before he heads off to work, and the movie doesn’t show any interaction between him and Selah.)

Maybelle is also the type of domineering parent who already has Selah’s future planned for her after graduation (a prestigious university, of course), but Selah drops hints that she might want to take a gap year or might not want to go to college at all. When Selah tries to tell her mother that she isn’t really interested in college, Maybelle quickly dismisses the idea and never asks what Selah really wants to do with her life. It’s the time of year where Selah has to decide which university to attend, and she’s been secretly delaying her response to the top school of her mother’s choice. Her mother finds out anyway that Selah hasn’t responded, and, not surprisingly, she’s livid about it.

The irony of Selah’s tense relationship with her mother is that the unpleasant characteristics that Selah dislikes about her mother are the same characteristics that Selah has when she’s around her peers. Selah and her mother are both bossy control freaks who use emotional manipulation, bullying and fear to get people to do what they want. They also don’t like having their plans disrupted, and they have a hard time accepting that people might not always want to go along with their plans.

The other adult authority figure in Selah’s life is Headmaster Banton (played by Jesse Williams), who is generally clueless about what goes on in the school’s “underground” factions. He usually finds out about student shenanigans after the fact. Headmaster Banton ends up cancelling the junior/senior prom because of the student unruliness. In response, the five factions decide to have their own off-campus party, which leads to a series of events that test the limits of some of the movie’s characters.

Before the party happens, there’s a scene in the movie that shows the mischievous side of the five factions, who vote on what what to do for their senior prank. They all decide that their prank, which they plan to do after school hours, will have something to do with water. The prank turns out to be filling hundreds of identical small tumbler glasses with water dyed blue, green and purple, and setting the glasses on all the steps of a long and winding staircase inside a school building.

It’s eye-catching, but it’s not a particularly creative prank. Headmaster Banton arrives with a colleague the next day and finds the stairs can’t be climbed because it’s filled with the water glasses. Apparently, this elite boarding school is too cheap to pay for on-campus night security, which would’ve caught these pranksters in the act.

As for the new girl, she’s Paloma Davis (played by Celeste O’Connor), who’s a sophomore when she enrolls in Haldwell. Paloma (just like Winona Ryder’s Veronica Sawyer character in “Heathers”) starts off as introverted and shy, but then changes after being accepted by the top clique of the “cool kids.” Paloma has an interest in photography, since she’s constantly taking photos of students on her professional camera. She’s in awe of the older kids in the “five factions.” Paloma is thrilled when Selah starts to pay attention to her, and eventually the two girls start to spend more time together. 

Paloma is the only non-senior who was invited to the “water prank.” Curiously, Paloma was openly taking pictures of the students during the prank, which is an odd plot hole to the movie, considering that Selah is the type of paranoid control freak who wouldn’t allow someone to have evidence of who caused the prank.

As explained by the unseen narrator in the beginning of the film, Selah will soon graduate, so she’s looking for someone to continue her “legacy” and take over The Spades after she’s gone. Paloma seems like an ideal candidate for Selah to mentor. But unlike Selah who is selfish and vindictive, Paloma is compassionate toward her fellow students. And she doesn’t always follow Selah’s commands. For example, Selah wants Paloma to take her side in Selah’s feud against Bobby, but Paloma is reluctant to pick a side and has no problem hanging out with Bobby.

Meanwhile, other insecurities fray the bonds of The Spades. Maxxie starts to become jealous that Selah and Paloma have become close, and he fears being replaced as Selah’s most-trusted right-hand person. Selah identifies as asexual and privately tells Paloma that she has no interest in dating. So it’s not much of a surprise that petty Selah becomes envious that Maxxie has become romantically involved with an attractive fellow student named Nuri (played by Nekhebet Juch). Maxxie and Nuri’s romance has distracted Maxxie from all the attention that he used to give Selah.

Like many toxic leaders, Selah is also quick to cruelly punish people she considers to be “disloyal.” There’s an insidious side to her, as it’s made clear to viewers that Selah doesn’t hesitate to have people beat up if they “snitch” or fall behind on their drug debts. There’s also something that happened during her sophomore year that is mentioned several times in the movie as being disruptive to The Spades but a turning point in Selah’s leadership. The full details of what happened are revealed in the movie.

“Selah and the Spades” uses Selah’s controlling mother to explain why Selah is such a deeply unhappy person. It’s this movie’s attempt to make Selah more sympathetic (with the predictable scenes of Selah crying after being bullied by her mother), but it’s not to enough to explain why Selah (who also has an awful personality) has become the “queen bee” of the “cool kids.”

Selah is an empty shell of a person. Antiheroes who become leaders usually have some kind of charisma that attracts people to them. However, Selah has no charisma or any particular talent (if she has any passions or ambitions, they’re not shown in the movie), and she doesn’t appear to be the richest student in the school, so it’s not adequately explained in the movie why people would want to blindly follow her.

It is not unrealistic that the teenage characters in the movie talk like they’re 10 years older than the ages of their characters (such as when they use a phrase like “pray tell”), because these are supposed to be well-educated teenagers. The problem is that even though the movie tries to make Selah look like she’s wise beyond her years, in actuality, she has the emotional intelligence of a slug.

There’s also a preachy part in the movie where the Selah character, in the middle of cheerleader practice, stops and talks directly to the camera to go off on a rant about how people want to control the bodies of 17-year-old girls, who should have the right to say, do and dress however they want without being judged sexually. This is the only time that the Selah character “breaks the fourth wall” and talks directly to the audience.

It’s a very pretentious and misguided part of the film, not just because “breaking the fourth wall” doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie, but also because this attempt to make Selah look like an enlightened feminist falls very flat. At the point in the movie where Selah goes off on this rant, viewers already know she’s a self-entitled brat who’s also a drug dealer. It’s a little hard to take her preaching seriously, considering how morally bankrupt and hateful she is.

As the loathsome Selah, Simone does an adequate job at portraying someone who is supposed to be written as a complicated person, but she’s really transparent and fairly two-dimensional. The real discovery is O’Connor, who goes through a metamorphosis as Paloma, and gives by far the best performance in the movie.

Unfortunately, most of the characters, except for Selah and Paloma, are written as vague sketches. The movie could’ve been more interesting if it showed more of the personalities of the other faction leaders, so viewers can get an idea of the social dynamics that caused Selah to rise to the leadership position.

It’s not about Selah being likeable. It’s about her being fascinating enough to explain why she’s the “queen bee” of the school’s social hierarchy. Because “Selah and the Spades” takes the misstep of having a central character with such a dead personality (which leads to a lot of dull and predictable scenes), this movie that is clearly inspired by “Heathers” won’t ever be considered a cult classic like “Heathers.”

Amazon Prime Video premiered “Selah and the Spades” on April 17, 2020.