Hocus Pocus 2 offers both new and old sights
Review by Lauren Wolters
Nearly three decades after the first Hocus Pocus movie, Hocus Pocus 2 premiered on Disney+ September 30–just in time for spooky season. While geared more for children, the sequel, like its precursor, offers humor for all ages. And Disney even throws in a solid storyline to go along with the usual silliness of the Sanderson sisters. Although some may find the parallelism of the plot to the first movie dull and lacking creativity, I think Disney is successful in balancing the line between silly, humor and structure to tell an engaging story.
In the first film, the protagonist is a teenage boy named Max, and he resurrects the Sanderson sisters when he lights the witch’s candle to impress a girl. In the second film, the protagonist is a teenage girl named Becca. She too resurrects the Sanderson sisters by lighting the candle as part of a ritual for her sixteenth birthday.
Disney invokes several film techniques like foreshadowing, flashback and humor to engage viewers.
The filmmakers begin the movie with a flashback to Salem 1653 showing how the Sanderson sisters came to be witches. In this flashback, they also utilize foreshadowing with an old witches’ warning to the young Sanderson girls. This witch gives them her spell book and makes them promise to never use the witch maxima spell, which can give the witch that says it ultimate power.
Towards the end of the movie, Winifred says the maxima spell without reading the warning. The warning says that while whoever reads the spell will gain ultimate power, they will also lose what they love most. As a result, Winnie loses her sisters.
In this moment she realizes ultimate power is not what she thought it would be. She understands that her true love is not for the actual magic, but for the time she spends with her sisters. Winifried’s character changes as she finally starts to prioritize her sisters over her desire to be the best witch.
Change is eminent again when Becca and Izzy make amends with their childhood friend Cassie. It is only when they all work together that they can successfully shield themselves from the Sanderson sisters’ magic.
While Becca is the one who seems to have magical abilities, these abilities are stronger when she shares them with her friends. The evidence of dynamic characters allows Hocus Pocus 2 to have valuable meaning in addition to being a silly, seasonal children’s movie. The emphasis of the importance of family, the danger of power, and the strength of teamwork help filmmakers add depth to seemingly superficial movie.
A mix of old and new characters also add to the entertainment of Hocus Pocus 2. Sarah, Mary, and Winifred Sanderson all return for the second film, along with zombie ex-boyfriend Billy . Becca, Izzy, Cassie, Gilbert and Mayor/Reverend are all new additions to the sequel.
While Hocus Pocus 2 is a lighthearted, seasonal, family film, it also has some depth and underlying meaning that more analytical movie-goers can appreciate too. Disney could have been more creative and unique with the plot and the complexity of its characters. Nonetheless, they picked an excellent time to release the film for these weaknesses to be overlooked, at the peak of Halloween season.
So, grab some popcorn and a Disney+ subscription and see what meaning you can find in all the hocus-pocus. Let the Sanderson sisters run “amuck, amuck, amuck” in your head for a little while. After all spook- only comes around once a year.