A high school’s new girl harbors dark powers.
Directed by Richard LaGravenese(PG-13)
This smart adaptation of a popular young-adult novel makes “a feverishly enjoyable guilty pleasure,” said Peter Debruge in Variety. Though its story about a semiforbidden high school romance “trades mostly in dopey wish fulfillment,” the film’s game cast and “competent” script might be enough to launch a major new teen franchise. The star is surely a keeper, said Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter. Alice Englert “projects a maturity beyond her years” that helps us believe in the burden of being a 15-year-old with witch-like powers who hasn’t yet learned if she will be claimed by the dark side. Alden Ehrenreich holds his own as the small-town rebel who falls for her, while Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson “effortlessly” add a bit of class to the adult supporting roles. Still, this Twilight wannabe feels “nowhere near as potent” as that teen-vampire series, said David Edelstein in New York magazine. Twilight tapped “something creepy in American culture” at the intersection of body shame and young lust. Here we get merely a delectable serving of “screwball Gothic whimsy.”