The first act of
Unfortunately, the film never lives up to its initial potential. Instead,
The young cast is splendid. Cailee Spaeny excels as our central character Lily, whose youthful vitality is anchored by an old-soul knowingness. Lily has a close relationship with her mother Helen (Michelle Monaghan), whose moving the pair to a new town so she can settle in with her boyfriend Adam (David Duchovny). This puts Lily in a fish-out-of-water scenario, and Spaeny masters this. You understand her, you feel for her when things go wrong—as they’re wont to do in films like this—and you empathize with her new role in this family she doesn’t understand. She’s looking for her place in this strange environment. And luckily, it isn’t long before she finds it.
Lily has a power that attracts a coven of fellow high school girls. They’re on the hunt for their fourth member, and know right away that Lily is it. Why? She can hear their telepathic whispers to skip detention. And she has the ability to make things happen with her mind. You know, typical witch stuff. The coven is made up of Frankie (Gideon Adlon), Tabby (Lovie Simone), and Lourdes (Zoey Luna), who each represent a direction and its corresponding element. Frankie is the south’s air, Tabby the east’s fire, and Lourdes the north’s earth. Which makes Lily their west’s water. She agrees to join and together, the coven’s powers are unstoppable. But with all of that power comes a price.
The film would have worked best as a standalone with shades of the original peppered in. There are times where it feels like a soft reboot, and therein lie its strengths. When the coven interferes with the life of classmate Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine), they learn the weight of their power. It’s an important lesson for them: that their magic has consequences. Unfortunately, this lesson is undone by a series of tacked-on revelations that feel completely unearned. The whole finale feels like a bad episode of
Ultimately, the film squanders its wonderful potential for a few cheap “aha” moments that never coalesce. In fact, they turn the whole film into one giant, incomprehensible mess. “Your difference is your power,” Helen often tells her daughter. If only