by Anna Harman
Disney came out with “Hocus Pocus” back in 1993. 29 years later, they released a sequel to this Halloween classic. The Sanderson sisters, played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker, made their comeback in “Hocus Pocus 2.” They performed several musical numbers in this sequel, all while they are faced with strange, modern technology. Viewers also got to see the return of Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones). The film was a combination of nostalgia for the older crowd and an appeal to the newer audience.
There were several new characters introduced in this film. Becca (Whitney Peak), Izzy (Belissa Escobedo), and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham) were introduced as three 16-year-old girls interested in witchcraft. There was a local eccentric, Gilbert (Sam Richardson), that they went to for their mystical supplies. He gave them the black flame candle that brought the Sanderson sisters back for one night. The witches came back and interacted with the teenagers to find the souls of children so they could gain immortality. The story mainly focused on the three girls trying to protect Salem from the witches.
The film was very modernized. There was a lot of singing and performing from the Sanderson sisters, something that is seemingly becoming more popular in recent years. The witches found themselves in a Walgreens, coming face to face with automatic doors, beauty products, and even the security dome mirror. It was very comical to watch the sisters try to figure out these “new” things. It was a bit less intense than the original Hocus Pocus and aimed more toward the younger audience.
This film also catered to the growing interest in contemporary witchcraft. The girls used crystals and rituals for good luck, among other things, which is something becoming more common among young people today. The local eccentric shop owner, Gilbert, and his store full of magic and witchy things also appealed to this interest among the younger generation.
This movie was very “pro-witchcraft” and that’s troubling from a Christian perspective. Of course, the original movie consisted of a lot of satanic-related content and witchcraft, but it’s particularly concerning that this movie encouraged rituals and witchery because of its growing popularity among the younger generation. This sequel made being a witch out to be a good thing and it really hit on the power of the coven. This went one step further to promoting witchcraft for young people today.
I will say, I was very impressed with how young and glamorous the Sanderson sisters look, even after the original film was released 29 years ago. It was like taking a journey back in time, seeing how the original characters seamlessly stepped right back into their roles. The portrayal of these roles felt very natural, even after all these years.
Another thing that many people have been noticing about this film is the poor greenscreen work. It was most obvious towards the end of the movie with the moonlit forest backdrop. In 2022, viewers expected this sequel to be cinematic, but it actually looked very comparable to the Disney original from the ‘90s. The film wasn’t even shot in Salem and you could tell. While the audience wanted that nostalgia from the original film, we didn’t want it to look like the original that was made almost 30 years ago.
While this sequel does focus quite a bit on Becca, Izzy, and Cassie and their “coven” that is formed through friendship, it concentrates more on the Sanderson sisters. It was a nice shift from the original that focused on the characters of Max, Dani, and Allison. This was more about the Sanderson sisters’ story, where they came from, and what they are all about. Each of the “coven’s” narratives compliment each other well.
I enjoyed this movie, despite its few hiccups. It was a very admirable continuation of the original film, especially because it wasn’t separated entirely from the plot of the first film. The nostalgia and humor within this movie made for a very pleasant watch.
I give this film an 8/10.
“Hocus Pocus 2” is now streaming on Disney+
Anna Harman is a junior Biblical Studies major and also a reporter for Cedars. She appreciates writing, peppermint tea, flowers, and going to concerts.
Images courtesy of Disney+