Review: Hocus Pocus 2

Nostalgic but disappointing

The highly anticipated sequel provided some nostalgia, but did not live up to expectations.

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Credit: Disney+


After nearly 30 years, the black flame candle is lit again, welcoming the Sanderson Sisters back onto our screens in Anne Fletcher’s Hocus Pocus 2. With the original 1993 Hocus Pocus becoming a cult classic, the bar was set incredibly high for Hocus Pocus 2.

The film begins with a flashback to 1653 Salem, where the young Sanderson Sisters wreak havoc on townsfolk and end up in the Forbidden Forest, meeting Mother Witch (Hannah Waddingham), who gifts young Winifred (Taylor Henderson) a magic spell book. Fast forward to present-day Salem, where the magic-obsessed teens Becca (Whitney Peak) and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) accidentally summon the Sanderson Sisters with the help of Gilbert (Sam Richardson), a magic shop owner who gifted Becca a black flame candle. Becca, Izzy and their friend Cassie (Lilia Buckingham) race to stop the Sanderson Sisters as the sisters try to find a way to survive in the modern world permanently.


Belissa Escobedo as Izzy and Whitney Peak as Becca in Disney's live-action HOCUS POCUS 2

Credit: Matt Kennedy, Disney+

The villain origin story of the Sanderson Sisters was a great addition to the sequel, with the actors embodying the characters almost perfectly. Henderson perfectly mimicked the mannerisms of Bette Midler’s Winifred all the way down to her peculiar hand gestures and her famous teeth. Along with Hannah Waddingham’s cameo, the time jump provides a perfect window of opportunity for a mini-series. However, Bette Midler’s performance as Winnie lacks the magic that made the first film so iconic. The Sanderson Sisters have been sanitized by Disney to appeal to a younger audience, coming across as ‘quirkier’ rather than evil. The character of Sarah Sanderson (Sarah Jessica Parker) was completely lost in the film, with very few lines and a lack of personality; for example, Sarah’s overly flirtatious nature is clearly absent in Hocus Pocus 2. The visuals of the film seem more artificial than the original Salem, with evident green screens being poorly used paired with a very weak plot. The absence of the original characters, Max, Dani and Allison, is disappointing, with no reference to them existing at all.

The three main characters lacked depth, which made it very hard for a viewer to connect with them. Their main purpose clearly was to bring The Sanderson Sisters back, and that was it. It was good to have some diversity amongst the cast. It’s just a shame that their personalities were hardly explored, and they had very little screen time.

Despite that, there were some positives to the film, such as many nods to the original film and comical moments. It was entertaining to see the Sanderson Sisters adapt to the modern world, such as discovering Walgreens and using filters on Snapchat with fans. The sisters have upgraded their mops and hoovers as brooms in exchange for ‘Roombas’ and ‘Swiffers’. They also gave us a new musical rendition of ‘One Way or Another’, paying homage to the famous scene in the original film where they perform ‘I Put a Spell on You’.

The witches’ iconic costumes were given a slight 21st-century update, with costume designer Salvador Perez taking inspiration from Mary Vogt, who was the costume designer for the original film. Perez kept the original colours of the sisters’ costumes but updated them, with every symbol on the costumes having a link to Wiccan culture. A costume that stood out for me was Mother Witch’s (Hannah Waddingham) costume. Its bright, fiery colours, paired with a black cape, made a great impact, as well as drawing on some similarities to Dani’s (Thora Birch) costume in the original film.

Overall, Hocus Pocus 2 is a nice nostalgic film to watch during the weeks leading up to Halloween. However, if you are a die-hard fan of the original, I am afraid you may be disappointed. The film is easy to watch and comical at times, but with its watered-down Sanderson Sisters and weak plot, it does not live up to the expectations of fans. In my opinion, it lacks the magic of the first film and falls into the category of other sequels that, unfortunately, just missed the mark.

Hocus Pocus 2 is out now via Disney +




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