Spooky season is finally here! With the weather getting chilly and Halloween fast approaching, we got our writers in the spirit (pun intended) with Hocus Pocus 2. After almost 30 years since Hocus Pocus was released in 1993, Disney has released a sequel to this cult classic. The Sanderson Sisters are once again resurrected with plans to take over Salem, and three young girls must try to stop them.
Following on from rrramble’s review of Hocus Pocus last year, does this sequel echo what our writers thought of the OG film?
I woke up this morning and all of a sudden it is autumn. Leaves are orange, pumpkin spice is everywhere’s favourite theme, and Hocus Pocus is back on our screens. As my housemate yelled ‘IT’S SPOOKY SEASON!’ in my face this morning, that Halloween excitement riled up inside of me. I thought Hocus Pocus 2 was really going to scratch that All Hallows’ Eve itch. It did not.
Hocus Pocus 2 didn’t hit the nostalgia button like I thought it would. It just didn’t have the same feeling the first one did. The first Hocus Pocus was like a horror film for kids, and it’s where my obsession for horror movies began, so it clearly holds a special place in my heart. From the moment I pressed play on the second one I was just underwhelmed. To give it some credit, I don’t think its intended target audience is 26 year old me, so to a child nowadays it might be just as magic as the first one was for me. But, if I’m honest, they should have made Hocus Pocus 2 with no one else but people my age in mind. We grew up with the first one and have waited our entire lives for this, and it just fell a little flat for me.
Some positive attributes to re-introducing such a classic to the screens of the 21st century are the empowering feminist messages that are explored throughout. There was a strong emphasis on the importance of sisterhood, friendship and supporting other women rather than tearing each other down – all crucial lessons to be teaching the younger generation. It contained multiple strong major female roles, that were not dampened by their male counterparts who served as supporting characters and not portrayed as the heroes of the story. There are multiple explorations of teenage relationships and how to navigate the field of adolescence. So all in all, some great lessons to be teaching the younger generation, instead of what we got in the 90s, which was much less empowering and little more patriarchy fuelled. The approach to the modern world was very endearing and, while the nostalgia wasn’t there, it did bring something new to the table.
Having said that, the musical numbers did not leave the same lasting impression as the iconic ‘I put a spell on you’ sequence from the first one. They were okay, but nowhere near as memorable as any from the former and the writing felt very wooden, but that could be because it was written for a much younger audience. While it may not have been the sequel that I was hoping for, the underlying themes that are relevant to today’s world makes Hocus Pocus 2 an appropriate film for the upcoming generation, and made me thankful for the film we were gifted in the 90s. It was fun, but for me it just felt that something was missing, probably the 90s nostalgia. I might watch it again in the run up to Halloween, but I think I might just stick with the first one.
Warning: Slight spoiler ahead
I’ve only seen the first film once during Covid Halloween and I wasn’t aware of this cult classic growing up. Whilst it didn’t become an all-time favourite for me, I did enjoy it and it was an hour and a half of campy fun. I found it very amusing that a Disney project had so many jokes about virginity. I was anticipating this sequel and had somewhat high expectations. These expectations weren’t met unfortunately and I wasn’t bewitched by the film (boom boom tish).
The film had such a promising start. The actress who played the young Winnie really captured Bette Midler’s mannerisms whilst being charismatic in her own right. I really felt the sense of independence and freedom the young witches had and it was an exciting opening sequence. The film clearly was trying to push for this theme of sisterhood and it just wasn’t executed properly. Witches can be such a power fantasy for women and I love how they’ve been a symbol of female autonomy and anarchy throughout history. The opening sequence was promising to me because it felt that, with the older witch and her lack of a coven, the film would explore the feminism and sistership within witches. Hocus Pocus 2 tried with the modern day teens, but in my opinion failed miserably.
The acting and the humour was pretty subpar for the most part. There were some laughs but I thought the teen actors had very flat and cringeworthy delivery with their lines. Whilst the Sanderson sisters are funnier and charismatic, I also found their banter a bit childish and repetitive at times. Whilst the first film wasn’t a masterpiece, it was enjoyable and there was something charming about its tone. I think at times the film was trying too hard to be relevant and catch up with today’s times. But in general I find most media that try to relate to today’s youth and comment on current social media/trends very cringeworthy. I think the flat acting of the young actors meant the sisterhood theme the film attempted to push wasn’t executed well because a lot of viewers just won’t care for these new protagonists.
I strongly feel that the film should have explored Becca’s powers in more depth. It was pretty cool to see her come into her powers and in terms of representation we have been lacking in Black witches (apart from The Craft and Marie Laveau). But I don’t understand why the film didn’t explore the origins of her powers and it didn’t even feel like Becca was curious about them herself. In fact, she was rather blasé about suddenly discovering she’s a witch in training. Was her mother a witch? Is she a descendent of a witch? I think in the flashback the Sanderson sisters should have instead met Becca’s ancestor who was a rival witch and that could have motivated them to target Becca instead of the underutilised reverend/mayor. I think that would have lent more depth to Becca and the source behind her magic.
When the credits started to roll me and my sister let out an uncertain yet disdainful “Hmm.” together. The film had its fun moments and Bette Midler was a delight to watch as usual. But I know that this film has a massive nostalgia factor for lovers of the first film and I suspect this sequel was a massive disappointment for those viewers. I was hoping the film would be a lot more enjoyable but the poor acting and writing was too distracting.