HOCUS POCUS (2022)
Release Date: 09/30/22 [Disney+]
"Three young women accidentally bring back the Sanderson Sisters to modern day Salem and must figure out how to stop the child-hungry witches from wreaking havoc on the world."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
The anticipation of one of your all-time favorite movies getting a sequel or being remade can evoke many emotions; dread of the legacy being ruined, excitement of new content with your favorite characters, or indifference that no matter what the new thing is, it cannot rock your love and dedication for the original. This is exactly how I felt when I first heard my favorite childhood movie, the cult-status Hocus Pocus (1993) was getting a sequel. I was relieved to know it was not a remake and the original cast was committed to return to reprise their iconic roles. Just in time for the spooky season, Hocus Pocus 2 hit Disney+ this weekend.
The film opens with an eerie, threatening but fun sound similar to the original score, in Salem 1653, where we meet the WInifred Sanderson stomping through the village on her 16th birthday. Taylor Henderson, who portrays 16-year old Winnie, embodies the character perfectly. I was blown away by her uncanny performance; this is exactly what Winnie would have been like on the day she rebelled on being married off by the Reverend in the village. She and her younger sisters retreat to the forbidden woods where she receives her famous one-eyed spellbook and her magical, wicked powers from The Witch Mother, played by Hannah Waddingham. This cast is bursting with many wonderful additions of famous, notable faces of your favorite actors from today!
Quickly the story jumps to present day Salem and takes off from there. The plot centers around friendship rather than sibling-ship this time. We meet Becca (Whitney Peak) on her 16th birthday, Halloween day. Becca and her best friend Izzy (Belinda Escobedo) accidently awaken the Sanderson Sisters from the dead when they light a Black Flame Candle in the woods. To their surprise, the witches return and immediately begin to wreak havoc on their town. We find out Gilbert (Sam Richardson) was there on that 1993 Halloween night, which was the last time the Sanderson Sisters were in town. The sisters realize that the current Mayor (Tony Hale) is a descendant of the Reverend who tried to marry off 16-year old Winnie. Now they’ve found their prey. Cassie (Lilia Buckingham), daughter of the Mayor (Tony Hale), is clearly the former 3rd best friend of the Becca/Izzy group, outcast because of her immature boyfriend she now spends most of her time with. Can the three young women come together, despite their differences to defeat the Sanderson Sisters?
At first I was kinda bummed that certain things I love so much about the first film were not featured in the sequel; no Max, Allison, Dani, or Binx (there is a new cute black cat, though, named Cobweb), and no rendition of “I Put a Spell on You”. However, I came to the realization that I am glad this sequel is able to stand on its own without relying on the crutch of what made the first film so famous. Don’t worry though, there are more than plenty of nods to the first film that are subtle and very well done alongside creative new memorable moments. Again, it could not have been done without Bette Milder, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker returning as the Sanderson Sisters–something that is untouchable for anyone else to portray..
Hocus Pocus 2 does not disappoint and ends up being the perfect companion piece to the original tale. Although it comes close it could never fully live up to the same amount of camp, charm, and nostalgia as its 1993 source. However, director Anne Fletcher successfully captures the heart and soul of the Sanderson Sisters while adding a more modern spin and message for viewers. The die-hard millennial-aged fans will love this new take on the classic they grew up with and the ability to share it with today’s and future audiences alike.