Hocus Pocus 2
hocus pocus | hocus pocus 2 | comedy | family | fantasy | bette midler | sarah jessica parker | kathy najimy | sequel | witch | witches | coven | ritual | united states | whitney peak | belissa escobedo | lilia buckingham | sam richardson | doug jones | tony hale
Film: Hocus Pocus 2
Director: Anne Fletcher
Writer: Jen D’Angelo
Starring: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy
This is a movie that I’ll be honest, I didn’t care much if I saw it or not. Originally, Jaime was going to a party to see this with friends. She wasn’t up to it so I told her that I would watch it with her. It counts as a 2022 watch and plus, we recorded a bonus episode for Journey with a Cinephile: A Horror Movie Podcast about it.
Synopsis: 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.
We start this off in a similar way to the original. The location is Salem back in 1653. A young Winifred (Taylor Henderson) comes up in a mood. She was told by the Reverend Traske (Tony Hale) that she is to marry. Since their parents passed away, he has assumed guardianship. She doesn’t want to marry though. At home are her sisters, Mary (Nina Kitchen) and Sarah (Juju Journey Brener). Due to her disagreeing with the reverend, they’re banished from the village. In the woods, they meet a witch, Hannah Waddingham. It is from her they get a book and told there is one spell in they are not allowed to use. They make a promise that they won’t.
The movie then shifts to present. Becca (Whitney Peak) and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) meet at school. It is the formers’ birthday. Every year they do a ritual for good things to happen for that year. They run into another of their friends, Cassie (Lilia Buckingham). It appears that they used to be closer but have had a falling out of sorts since she got a boyfriend. He isn’t smart and on the football team, Mike (Froy Gutierrez). Things get more strained when they learn that Cassie is throwing a party and they weren’t invited.
After getting out of school, they visit a local magic shop that is run by Gilbert (Sam Richardson). He has restored the Sanderson sisters’ home into a museum of sorts. Becca and Izzy come in quite often. There is good banter back and forth as he gives them a candle to burn in the woods along with a type of herb. They go out into the woods as they always do, but something isn’t right. There is something wrong with the candle.
It brings the Sandersons back. They see an opportunity to do the spell they did previously. This time using Becca and Izzy. Becca thinks quick though and comes up with a way to distract them. Winifred also has her sights set higher. The spell that she promised not to use would allow her and her sisters to outlive the black flamed candle and dawn. There is a price too pay, one that might be much too high. It also seems to be another wrinkle that Becca might be closer to Winifred than she realizes.
That is where I’ll leave my recap as well as introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is going back to the reason that I watched this. Jaime is a fan of the original from when she was growing up. This was a sequel that we both were wondering how they were going to make work. Having watched franchise movies, you can cheat or do something that makes sense. I’ll give credit here. What they do worked for me. I feel that it fits in with things and I could buy it.
Going along with this idea, Jaime and I wondered if this was going to be a ‘remake’ of the first one. What I mean there was just having the same premise over again where they go after a child or two to be young again. We get a bit of that, but they’re aiming higher this time. They want to do a spell that will make them the most powerful witches. We also get to see something interesting here. It seems that only Winifred truly has powers. The witch mother seems to acknowledge this. I always was under the assumption that Sarah and Mary did too, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. They can help make Winifred more powerful. This is something we see with another new aspect.
When the movie shifts to the present, we meet our new crew of characters. There is Becca and Izzy who are friends. There is also Cassie who used to be with them until she started seeing Mike. This brings in a bit of bullying with things that Mike says to the other two, calling them witches. We see that he might not be that far off. This makes an interesting mirror between the Sandersons and this new crew. It also is a balancing force as well. I thought that this made it more interesting to be honest.
Where I want to shift over to would be a gripe that both Jaime and I had, this is too ‘Disney’. This one feels to me that they wanted to go too sentimental. I would have liked it to be a bit more like the original one and go a bit darker with things. Instead, this feels like it wanted to get the pop from the crowd. I’m glad that they got back Midler, Parker, Najimy and Doug Jones. That’s great. They have things like the book and a black cat that might know more than a normal one. That’s all fine. It just leaned into being sappy more than trying to match the original vibe.
That’s all I want to say with the story so I’ll go to the acting. I’ve already laid out all the characters that come back. That’s great. I think that all of them bring that same level that we got originally. They are all good in their roles and just seem to fit back in. I like including Peak, Escobedo and Buckingham add a nice mirror to the Sandersons. These younger actors have their issues to work through and it feels real. They are also the good version I’d say. I liked the addition of Richardson and Hale. They’re both fun actors. I’d say the rest of the cast was solid in support as well.
That will then take me to the filmmaking. I’d say for the most part that it was fine. The cinematography we get looked good. They use interesting shots, especially when our witches are flying on brooms. This version uses more CGI as well. It doesn’t always look great, but it does have that Disney money behind it. The practical effects we get look good. I thought the 1600s Salem di as well. There seemed to be a building there that is still standing today, having seen it in real life, and I liked that. Other than that, the soundtrack was fine. Midler sings a couple times which is good. I do think they go back to that well a couple times here when that wasn’t necessarily needed.
In conclusion, this is a fun movie. I didn’t hate my time with it. What I will say is that I’m not the target audience. I did want them to go darker like they did in the original one, but this stays more superficial and sappier. That doesn’t ruin the movie, it just wasn’t what I personally wanted. The acting though is good from the original cast and the additions are solid along with them. I think that the filmmaking is fine. They go a bit heavier with the CGI, but that is to be expected. This did make me chuckle, but I can’t give too much more credit beyond that. The last thing is that I like what they did to continue the story.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10