The long-awaited follow-up to 1993’s Hocus Pocus is now available. It’s a wickedly enjoyable trip down memory lane, and we’ve lit many a Black Flame Candle to celebrate its triumphant return.
The creepy Disney tale by David Kirschner as well as Blake Harris, directed by Anne Fletcher and written by Jen D’Angelo, has produced a flawlessly spellbinding sequel that revives our favourite melodramatic witchy sisters with shrewd contemporary dialogue, vintage spooky special effects, as well as potent recent additions which bring the adored Halloween classic into 2022.
The Hocus Pocus 2 narrative
The plot of Hocus Pocus 2 accurately follows the primary elements of the first film, featuring executed witches. 29 years post being unintentionally revived in 1993 by Max, Allison, as well as a diminutive, spunky Thora Birch, the Sanderson Sisters were unintentionally revived once more with the burning of the Black Flame Candle. What was the witches’ goal? Of course, to end the lives of the kids of Salem before dawn; else, it’s game over! They disappear! They are gone forever!
A reboot of 90s film
Only when the original leads were committed could a reboot of a ’90s nostalgia movie like Hocus Pocus succeed, and in this instance, the core trio deliver. Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker and Bette Midler, reprise their roles as the immensely powerful Sanderson sisters, picking off wherein they left off nearly 30 years prior by donning their recognisable witches’ hats and cloaks and radiating the warmth of a Sanderson calming circle. In essence, they appear to be having an amazing blast.
As Winifred “Winnie” Sanderson, played by Midler, within sublime Shakespearian melodrama, she is back in turbocharged form, wide-eyed, open-mouthed, screaming, “Lock up your children!” and generally tormenting her sisters like she used to.
Najimi delightfully reenacts her favourite Mary Sanderson character, stalking youngsters with her nose, cracking frequent witchy jokes, and threatening to fricassee them. Laugh like a Sanderson sister when Najimi held out a facial mask as “the face of a child” and afterwards swallows it.
And as for Parker, she leaps straight into Sarah Sanderson’s dramatically sexual silliness, frequently misunderstanding the goal of a task and always appearing to be holding back a screamy giggle whilst fawning over boys. You were hardly ever treated to an SJP slapstick comedy character.
The recipe still works perfectly
With Mary overanalysing the details and Sarah misinterpreting the overall idea, Winnie booms operatic pronouncements as they are all engulfed in wonderful physical slapstick comedy magic. The trio channel the crackling energy the picture depends on to create coordinated spell-casting, many Little Shop of Horrors-worthy musical pieces, and melodramatic weeping circles. Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) exclaims, “I literally can’t stop watching them,” at one point.
Watching the Sanderson Sisters stumble through encounters with modern technology serves as Hocus Pocus 2’s best example of narrative comedy.
Hocus Pocus 2 takes us back in time to 1693, when we get a peek at the young Sanderson Sisters who have been exiled from Salem and are hiding out in the forbidden woods to avoid persecution. Little Winnie, Sarah and Mary are flawlessly portrayed by Nina Kitchen, Taylor Henderson, as well as Juju Journey Brener. Henderson, in particular, is an incredible accomplishment, imitating Midler’s body as well as tonal delivery to the last sarcastic syllable.
New witches on the block
Inevitably, a brand-new cast in pointed boots enters reboots like Hocus Pocus 2, and also the upgrades to this sequel are not to be taken lightly. In addition to replacing the original three of Allison, Max, and Dani, the sequel introduces a witchy new gang. Becca as well as Izzy, played by Whitney Peak and Belissa Escobedo, navigate an uneasy friendship split with Lilia Buckingham’s resolute Cassie. Even Becca calls out the compulsive patriarchal fear of female ageing in D’Angelo’s sharp, self-aware script to justify the presence of the narrative cliche of witches gaining their powers at the age of sixteen.
Dragging the ’90s back
Hocus Pocus 2’s overt nostalgia component is a double-whammy for the audience, appeasing both the Gen-Z nerds who are still living for the continuing ’90s revival as well as the millennials but also Gen-Xers who watched it religiously on Blockbuster VHS in the ’90s. Beyond the Tumblr aesthetic that has taken over ’90s-style horror films, TikTok, and TV hits still dominate the market, from Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy centred on R.L. Stine’s The Witches reboot, teen series to 2020, wherein Anne Hathaway had a blast reinventing Anjelica Huston’s iconic character. Remakes of classic horror films like The Munsters, Hellraiser, and Firestarter are all over, but Hocus Pocus falls into the category of family-friendly spooky instead of scary.
From the reappearance of the “maggot museum” as well as “good zombie” Billy Butcherson to the introductory overhead soaring shot that fly into Salem as well as the protective effect of a circle of salt, there are plenty of allusions to filmmaker Kenny Ortega’s original movie. Some allusions are more gratuitous than others, such as the meta-moment wherein Winifred flies over a couple viewing the first Hocus Pocus movie on television. Fletcher also adheres to the original movie’s shrewd use of Disneyland-worthy special effects and visuals, including the use of wind as well as fog machines, trembling floors, and seething giant incandescent cauldrons, with candles that burst into light.
In essence, the movie has the vibe of something that might have been appropriate for a 1993 Blockbuster as well as a 2022 theatre or streaming service.
A witch is nothing without her coven, Waddingham’s witch of the forbidden woods says in the opening scene of Hocus Pocus 2, which emphasises the value of sisterhood above all else. Najimy, Midler, and Parker replicate Escobedo, Peak, and Buckingham’s complex relationship both narratively and by utilising the connection between the two trios. They come to understand that, as Izzy says, “Power is meant to be shared.”
Hocus Pocus 2 is a unique reboot/sequel that builds on the cherished magic of the first while allowing its key stars magnificently lean into the turmoil, cackling, spinning, as well as yowling as brilliantly as they did 29 years ago. In short, Hocus Pocus 2 was worth the anticipation.