By: Julia Sikorski Roehsner
Warning – spoilers
Fans of the original ‘Hocus Pocus’ movie, which was released in 1993, to great success, were likely excited by the announcement of a sequel. ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ was confirmed as in production in December of 2020, and was released to Disney+ on September 30th of this year.
‘Hocus Pocus 2’ runs about an hour and 45 minutes long. Its story line picks up three decades after the events of the first movie and is set in the present day—with a quick visit to Winifred Sanderson’s past in 1653 Salem.
The viewer learns that she was banished from the town after she refused to consent to a marriage arranged by the despicable Reverend Traske. To avoid separation, Winifred and her sisters, Mary, and Sarah, venture into the nearby forest, into which the people of Salem are too scared to pursue them.
There, the sisters encounter Mother Witch. At first wanting to eat the girls to preserve her youth and beauty, she stops when she senses Winifred’s witchly power.
Mother Witch gifts Winifred a magic spellbook—recognizable as Book from the first movie—as it is Winifred’s sixteenth birthday, but warns her to never cast the power-gaining spell of Magicae Maxima. She also makes the mysterious comment that a witch is nothing without her coven.
The flashback ends, and the viewer is soon introduced to a new cast of characters. First and foremost is a teenager named Becca. Not only is it Halloween, but it is also the day of Becca’s sixteenth birthday. She and her friend Izzy are preparing for their customary night of fun celebration, though without the company of their third friend, Cassie Traske, who has become distant in the wake of her new relationship.
The two girls pay a visit to their favorite magic shop, located in the former home of the Sanderson sisters, and Becca receives a candle as a birthday gift from the store owner, Gilbert. Per tradition, the pair then venture into the forest.
Upon lighting the candle, Becca and Izzy discover that the 1993 banishment of the witches—now a local legend—was not so permanent after all; the candle turns out to be another Black Flame Candle.
Winifred, Mary, and Sarah are back once more.
Thus begins an evening full of adventure and twists and turns as Becca and Izzy do their best to escape the Sandersons and get rid of them once and for all.
Pulled into the mix are Gilbert, who turns out to have tricked the friends and is now facing the consequences, and Cassie, whose father is the spitting image of his ancestor—Reverend Traske. There is also an appearance by the familiar corpse, Billy Butcherson. And, of course, what is Winifred Sanderson without her beloved Book?
It’s only one night, but a lot can happen in one night when there’s magic involved.
Perhaps controversially, I found ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ pretty enjoyable. Common complaints that I’ve heard about it are that it’s not up to the standards of the original ‘Hocus Pocus,’ that it lacks that same feeling of Halloween spookiness, that it’s disappointing that more of the original cast didn’t return, and that the plot itself was boring.
I can understand these complaints, but they were things that didn’t bother me personally. I am not a longtime fan of ‘Hocus Pocus,’ so nostalgia was less of a factor for me when watching ‘Hocus Pocus 2.’ I also didn’t mind that it was aimed at a wider, and potentially younger, audience.
I particularly liked the cinematography and editing. The scenes were crisp and clean, and the coloring followed a consistently pleasing color scheme.
Overall, it was a light and comedic watch.
However, there were a few moments where I found myself frustrated at the characters for not realizing the obvious, and some of the scenes felt a bit forced, both in storyline and in acting.
Therefore, I give ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ a three and a half out of five star rating. As mentioned earlier, you can watch this movie on Disney+