‘Hocus Pocus 2’ is magically nostalgic

Long-awaited sequel finally arrives on Disney+


Fair use from Variety

Sarah Peterson

Since the 1993 Halloween cult classic, fans everywhere have been highly anticipating a sequel of Hocus Pocus. As an enthusiast of all things Halloween, I went into this new film a little nervous and not knowing what to expect. Granted, while there were bumps in the road, I was pleasantly surprised with how it revived an almost forgotten universe. Although arriving nearly 30 years after the release of its debut, “Hocus Pocus 2” keeps the original’s charm while adding its own personal flair to it. 

The film opens with the villain origin story for our very own Sanderson sisters, mainly Winifred. Taylor Henderson is wonderfully cast as the young witch and executes Winnie’s mannerisms perfectly the buck teeth, the constant disgusted expression and the widespread anger toward her reverend who forces her to get married on her 16th birthday. After running away into the woods with her sisters, Sarah and Mary, they bump into a horrifying witch (a fun cameo for “Ted Lasso’s” Hannah Waddingham) and are officially introduced to the world of witchcraft. When jumping back into the present world, we meet the protagonists Becca and Izzy, who accidentally bring back the Sanderson sisters while doing Becca’s birthday ritual on Halloween night. 

What follows are superb performances by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy, nailing their reprised roles as the sisters. Whether it be dancing and singing in a musical number or trying to fly with a Roomba as a makeshift broom, they execute their comedic lines perfectly, adding a nice humorous tone to the dark story. It feels like the sisters take the lead in this movie, allowing themselves more time to develop their characters, something that didn’t happen after the rushed ending of the original. Belissa Escopedo and Whitney Peak (Izzy and Becca) are also delightful additions to the series, demonstrating the importance of friendship while trying to resolve their issues with their ex-friend, Cassie. 

Unlike its predecessor, “Hocus Pocus 2” lacks visually. There was some very lazy CGI of a bird, and there were maybe three main sets that were used throughout the movie. During the dance numbers, Midler, Najimy and Parker put on great performances, while the backup dancers almost looked like they weren’t taught the choreography. In a specific scene where the camera pans out to show a group of 100 people dancing, there were more than 10 individuals who were moving in the wrong direction and not doing the correct moves at all. After Kenny Ortega (“High School Musical,” “Descendants”) skillfully directed and choreographed the first film, it’s obvious that a big chunk of the budget was most likely spent on the salaries of their famous lead sisters this time. 

Despite this, director Anne Fletcher did a superb job of recapturing the witchy-spooky-nostalgic Salem vibe that was constantly there in the original. The Salem Halloween Festival and the return of Billy Butcherson were perfect ways to recreate the ghostly feeling of the first movie while not making a copy out of it. I also felt that the plot this time around was much better thought-out and executed than the first there were a lot of random plot holes in the first movie that made no sense, and “Hocus Pocus 2” provides context and ensures that everything has a reason for being done behind it.

The ending succeeds at tying up loose ends and conveying a strong message on the importance of sisterhood, which will speak to the younger demographic that is targeted. Although this film may not live up to some people’s technical standards, it sure does satisfy those who have been waiting for a follow-up all these years. I was more than happy with this installment, and I can count on its younger and newer viewers to demand for more of the Sanderson sisters. 


“Hocus Pocus 2:” ★★★★☆