Hocus Pocus 2: Another Disney Cash Grab

Warning: spoilers!


Stefanie Kistler, Staff Writer

“Hocus Pocus 2,” one of the most anticipated movie releases of the year and  the  anticipated sequel to the 1993 cult classic, was released to… mixed reviews. It holds a 6.1 out of 10 rating on IMDb. While some fans said they enjoyed it and others said it was terrible, the general tone around “Hocus Pocus 2” is that it does not have the same impact as its predecessor. I watched it to see for myself and if I felt these thoughts were accurate. 

The movie starts out by giving us a glimpse into the Sanderson sisters’ past. We see their struggles with the hyper-religious townspeople of Salem, who are trying to force Winifred (the eldest sister) to marry, and the sisters’ subsequent exile after her refusal. The movie then shows how the girls start practicing magic after an encounter with an older witch and proceed to get revenge on those who have wronged them.

These scenes I honestly liked. Was the acting top tier? No. Was the script stellar? No. But it was over the top and campy, just like “Hocus Pocus,” and I found the Sanderson sisters’ backstories interesting. I really believe that the whole story should have been about the sisters’ childhoods and transformation into witches. The young actors matched the original actors well and they certainly looked the part. Most viewers also e already knew these characters, so it was very easy to root for them during their short screen time. Honestly, if the story had revolved around them, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

After we get away from the sisters as children, we meet the brand-new characters, Becca and Izzy (two best friends), Cassie (their estranged ex-best-friend) and Mike (Cassie’s himbo boyfriend). The story goes that Becca and Izzy accidentally perform a ritual (lighting The Black Flame Candle, just like in the first movie) that summons the Sanderson Sisters who awaken ready to eat children and wreak havoc yet again. Like the previous film, the kids work together and eventually end up stopping the sisters. The witches fade away, leaving the three girls with Winifred’s spellbook, implying that they are now witches.

As movies go, “Hocus Pocus 2” wasn’t awful. It was fun enough, if a bit stereotypical and cookie-cutter. Disney followed their sequel structure to the T and like most Disney sequels, popped out a bland but decent movie. If the original “Hocus Pocus” wasn’t so revered, “Hocus Pocus 2” might have easily passed by as an okay Halloween movie. Unfortunately, it was up against a Halloween classic, so I think it was always doomed to fail. While the computer-generated imagery (CGI) was certainly better and they brought back the original actors as the Sanderson sisters, it lacked the heart that made “Hocus Pocus the cult classic that so many love. 

They also seemed to make the sequel more family friendly than the first. The original “Hocus Pocus was cheesy and over the top, but it also had a very 90s dark humor that made it become the nostalgic hit we know today. “Hocus Pocus 2 lacks all of this and feels like a cash grab if anything.

On top of the lack of soul, the main characters were not very interesting or even likable. Becca and Izzy are boring and feel like they have no personalities other than being upset at Cassie and freaking out about the witches. Cassie seemed like she was there to just be the damsel in distress and make sad faces at her old friends. The girls eventually reconcile, but I didn’t really care. I didn’t like the characters, so why would I care if they were friends again? The one new character I really enjoyed was Mike, the himbo boyfriend, but he didn’t really get that much screen time, even though he was played by the talented (and gorgeous) Froy Gutierezz. One thing I will say is that these actors did well with what they had. It was easy to tell that they had talent, the problem was that the characters they were given to portray were just not great.

On the positive side, the visuals of “Hocus Pocus 2 were fantastic. The previously mentioned CGI was immensely improved and the costuming (especially for The Sanderson Sisters) were colorful and fun. I thought the film was very pretty to watch and although it had a different visual vibe than the original, it was still nice. The dancing scenes were also fantastically shot and when the sisters went on stage for the drag queen show, I was laughing so much. It is just such a shame that the bad of this movie outweighed the good.

While on its own “Hocus Pocus 2 might have made a fun movie, it unfortunately must live up to the hype of the original. While it was not an Oscar winner, it is beloved for its camp, dark humor and the nostalgia it creates. The film  lacked these qualities, and because of that I will say if you are a “Hocus Pocus  fan, I would not recommend watching this movie.