Hocus Pocus 2: A Fun Sequel to a Halloween Classic


Benedicto Campo, Media Critic

Hocus Pocus 2 is Disney’s long-awaited sequel to the Halloween classic Hocus Pocus. The original is a film every Halloween fan watches during the spooky time of the year. Now comes the sequel for fans to enjoy while eating their Halloween treats and getting ready for the spookiness of the season. The film brings back the original cast, which includes Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as Winnie, Sarah, and Mary Sanderson: the Sanderson Sisters. Doug Jones also assumes his role as Billy Butcherson, the good zombie. New cast members include Whitney Peak as Becca, Belissa Escobedo as Izzy, Lilia Buckingham as Cassie, Sam Richardson as Gilbert, Hannah Waddingham as the Mother Witch, and Tony Hale in a duo role, portraying Mayor and Reverend Traske. The film is a Halloween fest, with its musical numbers, funny moments, and of course, Halloween fun.

            Hocus Pocus 2 takes place twenty-nine years after the events in the original film. On Halloween night, best friends Becca and Izzy perform a ritual involving the Black Flame Candle from the original film. After Becca lights this candle, the Sanderson Sisters are resurrected again into the world. The sisters then begin to wreak havoc across Salem on Halloween night. It is up to Becca and Izzy to stop the sisters by recruiting allies across Salem and using whatever type of magic they can find.

         I am new to the world of Hocus Pocus. I first watched the original a weekend or two before the sequel was released. I thought the original film was amazing because of the chemistry between the Sanderson Sisters, the comedy, the musical numbers, and the fun plot it delivered. I expected to watch this film and enjoy it for the same reasons. After watching this sequel, I have to say that the film is fun and enjoyable. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy fit back into their roles as the Sanderson Sisters like a glove. The chemistry, character dynamics, and banter they have in the original film are all the same here, and they seem to be having fun coming back to play these characters. Doug Jones also fills his role of Billy Butcherson very well, bringing back his zombie mannerisms and signature growly voice, just as in the original film. The humor in this film is also easy to laugh at and enjoy. Whether it’s from the Sanderson Sisters reacting to modern-day surroundings, other characters, getting scared, or Billy getting his head torn off (again), this film will get a laugh from the audience. The Sanderson Sisters also sing musical numbers like in the original film and do an excellent job showcasing their singing and dancing talents. The film explores the Sanderson Sister’s history in greater depth, revealing their backstories and, in turn, humanizing the sisters in a way the audiences will understand them better. 

         For its many positive aspects, the film has negatives that drag it down a bit. First, the plotline was too predictable. I say this because it follows nearly the exact plot as the original, only having a few new plot points. This allows viewers to predict what comes next in the story without being surprised or shocked by the film’s events. Although sticking to the same formula works with some movies, this was not one of those films. Another issue is the film’s use of its new characters. The new protagonists, Becca and Izzy, aren’t likable because their stories and character arcs weren’t all that interesting. Their story mainly involves the two girls trying to make amends with another friend, Cassie, after a falling out they had. Other films that involve the falling out of friendships typically end with them making up with one another, and this plotline delivered just that. I also disliked that one of the plot points regarding the main character happens near the climax of the story. I felt like it wasn’t earned or worked up to enough throughout the rest of the story. I felt Hannah Waddingham’s character, The Mother Witch, had very little screen time. She appears in the flashback part of the film as the one who inspired the Sanderson Sisters to use witchery and gave them the iconic book. I felt like she could’ve had more screen time because her character was essential to kickstart the origins of the Sanderson Sisters. There were many parts of the film where she could’ve had a bigger role but didn’t.

         Overall, Hocus Pocus 2 is a fun, decent sequel to a Halloween classic. Most of the elements from the original movie are present and will make audiences cheer or laugh with joy. The chemistry and banter between the Sanderson Sisters, zombie antics of Billy Butcherson, humor, and musical numbers are highlights. However, it is undeniable the film is dragged down by its weak plotline and the lack of likability in its new characters. In terms of how Hocus Pocus 2 compares to the original, I have to say that it is not better than the original film. Although the new movie has many elements that made the original film special, the original was much stronger all around. That said, the sequel is still enjoyable for those who enjoyed the original film and a great way to get into the spirit of Halloween.