“Hocus Pocus 2” review: The modern day remake pales in comparison to its predecessor


Courtesy of IMDb

Maleigh Crespo, Equity & Inclusion Officer

When I first saw trailers for Hocus Pocus 2, like many people, nostalgia ignited within me. Movies like Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown, and Twitches were universal Halloween cinema staples growing up in the 2000s, so I had high hopes for the modern-day sequel. But as you read by the title of this review, my hopes were not met. 

The film starts out in Salem in 1653, where the Sanderson sisters are banished by Reverend Traske after the eldest of the three, Winifred, refuses to marry a local village boy. The sisters run off into the forbidden forest where they meet a witch who gives them the infamous book. 

While the prequel-esque story-telling is effective in giving the audience background on the Sanderson sisters, it lacked real relevance to the rest of the plot, as the film’s primary focus is the friendship between the main characters: Becca, Izzy, and Cassie who accidentally ignite the black flame candle and resurrect the Sanderson sisters.

Despite being the protagonists of the film, there was no correlation between the girls and the original Hocus Pocus film. The only connection was the forced role of Cassie Traske, whose father was running for mayor and a direct descendant of Reverend Traske who banished the sisters. 

The Sanderson sisters see the mayoral campaign flyers of Traske outside of Walgreens, and they realize who he is before beginning to plan their revenge by doing a forbidden spell to become all-powerful and taking over Salem. 

They return to the magic shop for Winnie’s book before cursing the shop owner to go on a wild goose chase to find the ingredients and dig up Billy Butcherson for the spell. In true Disney fashion, chaos ensues, and the girls’ friendship is put to the test. 

However, by the end, the Sanderson sisters stop targeting Traske, and that entire plotline is lost, and the film shifts abruptly. Throughout the film, there were several subplots that remained unfinished and unexplained. 

In the end, Winnie casts the spell and becomes all-powerful, but it costs her her sisters, so she begs Becca and her friends to reverse the spell. Forming their own coven in the forbidden forest, Becca, Izzy, and Cassie reverse the spell, and the sisters turn to dust. Becca and her friends then walk out of the forest with the book before releasing Billy Butcherson to finally rest in peace.

The film does a good job telling the story of sisterhood, but it lacked the magic and memorabilia that the original film had. While sequels are always hard to get right when the first film is cinematic gold, Hocus Pocus 2 failed miserably. 

The advertisement for the film was nothing more than nostalgia bait since the film hardly had any elements from the original 1990s classic, only subpar references and watered-down one-liners that didn’t capture the quality of the original movie in any way. 

There was no talking cat sidekick reminiscent of Thackery Binx, no reprise of “I Put a Spell on You,” no mention of Max and Dani or their 1993 resurrection — none of the charm that the original had. 

But if Disney is going for watered-down humor, lackluster subplots, and little to no chemistry between characters, then I’d say they succeeded. They also set up the beginnings of a threequel that centers around Becca becoming a witch and leading their newly-formed coven. It’s the perfect set-up for a film that I won’t watch. 

“Hocus Pocus 2” is now available on Disney+.

Illustration by Ariel Landry