Hocus Pocus 2 may fail to live up to both its predecessor and expectations but it does succeed in getting you into the spooky spirit.
Written by Niamh Brook / October 4, 2022
Halloween, to me, is the best time of the year. Hot drinks, candles and movie marathons; what more could a girl want? Growing up with a mother that shared this love for the spookiest time of the year, there was one film that always graced the screen during the Octobers of my childhood.
Kenny Ortega’s 1993 Hocus Pocus is the embodiment of the charm of 1990s cinema. The hazy camera quality, the cheesy performances, CG effects that are just a bit off and, of course, a song and dance. Charming and cheesy, Hocus Pocus has aged like a fine wine after its initial bomb at the box office. Now revered as a classic with fans across the globe, it was only a matter of time before a sequel found its way (via streaming) to our screens.
Hocus Pocus 2 reunites the world with the infamous Sanderson sisters 29 years after their last dalliance with the mortal world. The film’s first act lured me into a false sense of security, offering us a glimpse into the lives of the three witches before their magically malevolent misdoings. After a flashforward to present-day Salem, we are introduced to our new candle-lighting virgins, Becca, Izzy and, in a sense, Cassie (more on this later).
Everything looked promising, the set-up was good, the two new leads seemed fun and I was preparing myself for a good time. That is, until, the black flame candle was lit and Winefred, Mary and Sarah were back and this time, they were singing a witch-themed version of Elton John’s ‘The bitch is back’ causing me to take pause the film and ponder what on earth I had just witnessed.
It’s this scene that somewhat sums up the entire film, fun but ultimately lazy in direction and narrative. In the original film, the sisters perform a number to curse the town in this film, the first thing the sisters do is sing a cover of a song performed as though it was a pro shot of a musical with only one take to get it right. There’s no doubt that Middler, Najimy and Parker have still got it and it was a blast seeing their antics on screen once again. But they are failed by a weak script that stops and starts when needed, continually forgets about its one-dimensional characters and misses out on fun new gags in favour of shoving how much people love the original down our throats.
My particular gripe with the film is the treatment of its characters, the script offers some interesting new stories and perspectives but fails to even make the lead character shine. We are told not shown most aspects of the character’s personalities and their relationships, for the most part, feel paper thin. Take for example Cassie and her boyfriend, Mike, who seem to stop and start continually throughout the narrative showing up when needed and are given absolutely nothing to do throughout the film’s nearly two-hour run time. In particular, Mike is perhaps the blandest character I’ve seen in years and is almost an offensive repression of the lovable himbo I’ve ever seen on screen!
Overall, I didn’t hate Hocus Pocus 2. I had fun. I just wanted so much more from it. With such a promising start and an interesting premise, the film continually lets itself down but even with all that, I still found myself smiling at the screen, even with a few eye rolls here and there. I loved the new magical additions to the story and some of the jokes even had me giggling. My mother, a woman who loves the original as much as I do, summed up all my feelings about Hocus Pocus 2 in a text after she watched it. “Not quite Top Gun Maverick, not good, but not rubbish either.” Well worth a watch if you’re a fan of the original, Hocus Pocus 2 may fail to live up to both its predecessor and expectations but it does succeed in getting you into the spooky spirit.