Editor’s Note: So here at Red Mango Reviews we have not one but two fans of 1993 Disney fantasy comedy Hocus Pocus where a trio of witches (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy) are inadvertently resurrected by a virgin teenage boy (Omri Katz) in Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween night. And so we have not one but two reviews of the sequel Hocus Pocus 2. Let’s get right to it:
Alice Oscura’s Review
It’s the spooky season once again folks and that means that it’s time to enjoy our favoUrite scary movies and eat way too much popcorn and candy. Let’s kick things off with a review of the recently released sequel to Disney’s 1993 kiddie Halloween movie Hocus Pocus. While the original film didn’t perform well at the box office, it has managed to become a cult classic for audiences, especially during the fall season.
The story mainly centres around the witchy Sanderson sisters. There is the oldest Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and the youngest Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker). All the events take place in Salem, Massachusetts. The witches were known for consuming the life force of children to keep themselves looking young. Winifred uses her trusty spell book (affectionately called Book) to assist her in brewing dark potions and cursing her enemies.
The film starts with a surprisingly strong opening sequence. Young actress Taylor Henderson plays the role of a teenage Winifred. Henderson steals the attention of the audience by capturing the character’s mannerisms and facial expressions almost to perfection. Honestly, they could have made the entire sequel a prequel instead with this actress and it would have been even more enjoyable in my humble opinion. It was a smart choice to show the origin of Winifred’s powers as well as give the audience a sneak peek into her protective role when it comes to her younger sisters, although they constantly seem to infuriate her with their dimwittedness and failure to comprehend her bidding.
As the film jumps forward to our timeline, it’s been 29 years since the Sanderson sisters’ last appearance in Salem. The town is busy getting ready for its Halloween fair. Here we get the introduction of some new characters meant to propel the story forward with a modern-day twist. Three best friends Becca (Whitney Peak), Izzy (Belissa Escobedo), and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham) find themselves trying to save the town when the Sanderson sisters are unintentionally resurrected by Becca and Izzy during an annual birthday ritual for Becca’s 16th birthday.
As a huge fan of the original film, I was excited albeit a bit cautious when it was announced that a sequel was on the way, especially with the original actresses reprising their roles as the Sanderson sisters. While there was a mild success in adding the modern tilt to the comedic sequences by use of technology, the story dynamic and performance of the new cast were a bit lukewarm.
Now let’s get into the music, the song for the bewitching scene of the residents of Salem. The witchy trio performed their version of the song “One Way or Another” originally released by the band Blondie in 1979, with Bette Midler singing the lead. I’m with the percentage of the audience that was a bit disappointed that the film didn’t just use a reprisal of the song used in the previous film “I Put a Spell on You”. While the musical sequence was entertaining, it was a bit of a mess. The main soundtrack “The Witches are Back”, however, was catchy though and we could see that the trio had fun performing it before the ending credits of the film.
I’ve got one last critique and it is regarding Sarah Jessica Parker’s makeup, more specifically her eyebrows. What’s up with that? Also, the lighting was a bit questionable in certain scenes. It felt like they were putting extra bright lights on SJP’s face for some odd reason and honestly it wasn’t the most flattering, sorry to say.
The story was a bit uneven at certain points and a couple of the comedic sequences didn’t quite hit the mark. However, when it came to Winifred’s character getting the ultimate test, the film hits its emotional peak with a valuable lesson to be learned by all.
In conclusion, the sequel wasn’t disappointing at all and there’s family fun to be had for sure. Not a bad start to the Halloween season. Also, let me know in the comments below what you think about the after-credits scene. Yay or nay?
Alice’s Score: 6 out of 10
Sommerleigh Pollonais’ Review
Itchita Copita Melaka Mystica!
To some the sequel to Hocus Pocus is unnecessary, to others it’s long overdue, as for myself, I enjoyed the first film a lot. It’s the kind of movie we never get to see anymore, a film made for kids but willing to throw in dark comedy and adult themes just shy of losing that PG rating. So while I wouldn’t go as far as to say I was excited at the idea of a sequel, I will say I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.
Being a sequel the story begins by expanding on the history of the witchy trio known as the Sanderson Sisters. Of course they weren’t always witches as here they were teenage girls who had no parents but were instead wards of the church whose leader insisted the oldest (at 16) sister Winifred marries a man of his choosing. When Wini refuses they try to send her away and separate her from her younger sisters, Sarah and Mary, so they ran away together and ended up on a journey that leads them into becoming the infamous witches. The rest is basically the plot of the first movie with just enough new ideas thrown in as to be called a sequel and not a remake.
It can be difficult to review a movie without allowing the rose-coloured lens of nostalgia to make you biased. As I said before, I’m no super fan, just someone who found the original movie entertaining enough to revisit now and again. Matter of fact I haven’t seen the first Hocus Pocus movie in more than five years so it was easy enough to keep the two films separate and judge them accordingly.
The “magical moments” that worked for me are easily the return of Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as sisters Winifred, Sarah and Mary respectively. These three stepped back into their pointed shoes like no time had passed at all and while the energies of Parker and Naijimy was a bit dialed down here they still kept me entertained, while Midler, who I personally haven’t seen on screen in some time, chews the scenery in delightful ways as the head of the Sanderson Sisters. With their Three Stooges-like personas these three show how much they loved their now iconic characters by never coming across lazy, with Naijmy (Mary) and Midler showing off their improv skills and Parker still able to squeal like no other. I honestly don’t see this sequel working at all without the return of these talented ladies.
The younger cast doesn’t fare as well though. They aren’t terrible or anything but they just don’t stand out as much as the young trio of the first movie. Becca (Whitney Peak) and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) are the ones we spend the most time with while the third Cassie (Lilia Buckingham) is treated like an afterthought. Tony Ward shows up as both the Puritan priest as well as the present day Mayor and as Ward is always good for a chuckle his portrayal is exactly as I expected, as well as Sam Richardson as Gilbert the magic store owner. Even the great creator performer Doug Jones shows up here as the second most memorable character of these films, Billy Butcherson the hapless zombie, but dammit they just wasn’t enough scenes with him. You don’t waste Doug Jones Disney, you just don’t!
The most interesting thing I can say about Hocus Pocus 2 is in this reviewer’s humble opinion, it’s just as good as its predecessor. I’m sure there are those who will totally disagree with me and that’s fine too, as with any art form it’s all subjective. Personally, I enjoyed this the exact same amount I enjoyed the first one and that’s probably because both movies’ narratives and story beats are so similar , the energy is the same, the acting by the leads are just about the same and the little they did add (the Wallgreens scene was my favourite) was fine too.
Same magic spell same result I guess. Either way, for parents looking for a Halloween movie that’s age appropriate Hocus Pocus 2 brings just enough of it’s original magic to make watching with you kids (or maybe you’re just a fan of the first one, no kids required) an easy and entertaining time.
Sommer’s Score: 6.5 out of 10
So have you seen Hocus Pocus 2? What did you think of it? And you can check out more bewitching content below:
Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump. I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. Read More
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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