Hocus Pocus 2 shot and missed for the legacy of the original

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The poster for Hocus Pocus 2, the sequel to Hocus Pocus that came after almost thirty years.

Never in my life, prior to this weekend, had I watched Hocus Pocus. Despite being a very popular movie that came out almost thirty years ago, it never interested me. I had no idea what it was about or who was in it, and I never cared to look until I found out about its new sequel.

When a movie gets a sequel after 29 years, it draws my attention. There were only two thoughts that came to mind: either the movie was so amazing that it will have a fantastic sequel, or it was a money-grabbing reboot that would let me down.

After binge-watching Hocus Pocus and Hocus Pocus 2 right after one another, I would have to say that I am a bit disappointed.

Before I dive into Hocus Pocus 2, I’ll give a quick recap on what happened in the original movie. Hocus Pocus opens with the three Sanderson sisters—Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker)—in Salem, Massachusetts, circa 1693. The sisters are making potions to suck the lives out of children to stay young and are discovered as witches. They are then put to death by hanging. Flash forward 300 years, and Max Dennison (Omri Katz) has just moved to 1993 Salem. On Halloween, accompanied by his sister Dani (Thora Birch) and classmate Allison (Vinessa Shaw), Max brings the witches back to life until dawn unless they suck the souls of more children. This group, along with the soul of 17th-century Salem resident Thackery Binx (Sean Murray) in cat form, intervene against the witches before dawn so they cannot live forever. 

There were only two thoughts that came to mind: either the movie was so amazing that it will have a fantastic sequel or that it was a money-grabbing reboot that would let me down.”

After watching this, I expected Hocus Pocus 2 to involve the Sanderson sisters being brought back to life again, but I also thought Allison, Max, and Dani would play a role in the plot. Contrary to my ideas, they were not in the movie at all.

Instead, Hocus Pocus 2 focused on a new group of three: Cassie Traske (Lilia Buckingham), Becca (Whitney Peak), and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo). The trio has been doing the same birthday ritual for Becca on Halloween for years; for the first time, Cassie isn’t a part of it. When Becca and Izzy head to the woods, they bring a black-flamed candle gifted to them by the magic store owner Gilbert, played by Sam Richardson. Upon lighting the candle, the ground splits open, and the Sanderson sisters are back once more.

If this movie wasn’t connected to the original Hocus Pocus, I am sure it would be a flop. It’s a typical Halloween movie with a basic plot. 

This movie showcased one of my least favorite tropes: ditching friends for a boyfriend. Yes, that is in fact the reason Cassie wasn’t at the ritual; instead, she was throwing a Halloween party with her boyfriend. On top of that, she hadn’t been hanging out with Izzy and Becca for weeks, possibly months. Of course, in typical Disney fashion, it ended in a predictable and cliché way.

While I may believe Hocus Pocus 2 is ultimately not all that great of a plot, I do appreciate how it opened. The movie began by giving a deeper look into the lives of the Sanderson sisters. It explained how they became witches and why they were the way that they were. It truly made them seem like less of villains than in the first film. 

Although it could easily be overlooked, Hocus Pocus 2 tied in a small detail from Hocus Pocus within the witches’ transportation. In the first movie, when their brooms are stolen, Winifred uses a normal broom, Sarah uses a mop, and Mary has a vacuum. In the new movie, the sisters found their means of transportation in a local Walgreens. Winifred naturally found a normal broom. Sarah found the mop’s upgraded model: a Swiffer Wet-Jet. Mary, of course, couldn’t find a standard vacuum. Instead, she had two Roombas with one foot on each. 

I would have appreciated it if Hocus Pocus 2 fit better within the story and characters that the first film originally brought to life, and for that reason, I would recommend watching Hocus Pocus over the sequel.