‘Hocus Pocus 2’ can’t conjure up the spark of the original

The film has its moments, but it is mostly unmemorable

Ally Werstler, Contributing Writer

Watch out, Winston-Salem — the Sanderson Sisters are back after 29 years, and they’re ready to cause chaos in the new Disney Plus film, “Hocus Pocus 2”! The long-awaited sequel to the cult classic Halloween flick “Hocus Pocus”, the film introduces us to a new group of Salem teens, Becca (Whitney Peak), Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham) and their journey to save their town from the wrath of the infamous Salem witches. Reprising their iconic roles as the Sanderson Sisters are Bette Middler (Winifred), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah) and Kathy Najimy (Mary), who are wonderful to see back on screen. The film’s strong beginning is filled with callbacks to the beloved original. However, as the story progresses, the nostalgia fades, leaving viewers to indulge in an average script coupled with the teen actors’ mediocre performances. 

I love the original “Hocus Pocus” because it’s the cheesiest, funniest and most entertaining Halloween movie that anyone can enjoy. The opening of “Hocus Pocus 2” is able to capitalize on nostalgia by making references to the original through clever dialogue and visual effects, thus building plenty of tension for the eventual return of the Sanderson Sisters. However, there’s a big problem with this much tension, as the viewer sits through fifteen minutes of the new teen trio’s boring storyline to witness the reintroduction of the witches. When Winifred and her sisters finally appear on screen, the audience is overcome with joy as Middler, Parker and Najimy bring some much-needed spunk to the table. Sadly, this pattern continues, leaving us with extremely entertaining scenes that feature the Sanderson Sisters and painfully uninteresting scenes that focus on the teens.

In the original “Hocus Pocus”, the scenes with the teen characters Binx, Max, Allison and Dani were just as enjoyable as the moments featuring the Salem witches. “Hocus Pocus 2” cannot make its teen trio amusing to save its life. Peak, Escibedo and Buckingham try their best to work with the dialogue that they are given, but such efforts still result in bland performances. The dryness of their dialogue is reflected in the fact that I did not laugh at or remember any of their lines or actions, which is quite the opposite effect of Dani’s iconic one-liners in “Hocus Pocus.” When compared to Middler, Parker and Najimy’s performances, it is extremely evident that these teens cannot reach the same energy level that is required when interacting with such out-of-pocket characters. However, when the teens were not on screen, the audience had an absolute blast as Middler, Parker and Najimy’s enthusiasm was contagious, leaving the viewers with a smile plastered on their faces. 

So, is “Hocus Pocus 2” better than the original? Absolutely not. But, it is a generally entertaining film in which you get to witness the return of the most iconic witches in cinematic history. One way or another, you will probably get roped into watching “Hocus Pocus 2”, and you will most likely have a spookily good time. 

Film Score: 6/10