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Film: "Hocus Pocus 2"
"Hocus Pocus 2" picks up a number of years after the first film concludes. It follows the story of three young girls who inadvertently resurrect the Sanderson Sisters on Halloween night.
I should probably declare before I get into my thoughts on Hocus Pocus 2 that I do not remember much about the original film. Having seen it several years back, I know enough about it to tell you a bare-bones plot summary. I remember Bette Midler having a very big screen presence, but not much more than that. As a direct result of this fact, I wasn’t too sure what to expect going into this movie. However, I was reminded a lot of the overall vibe the original film left me. If nothing else, I do think this movie succeeded in capturing the spirit of the property.
Hocus Pocus 2 picks up a number of years after the first film concludes. It follows the story of three young girls (Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, Lilia Buckingham) who inadvertently resurrect the trio of mischievous witches, known as the Sanderson Sisters (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimi) on Halloween night-or All Hallows Eve as this film calls it. The Sisters set out on the town of Salem to cause trouble and cast a spell to ensure their omnipotence. The girls must set off to stop them before they endanger their friends and families.
On a surface-level analysis, I do think Hocus Pocus 2 makes a strong attempt at connecting with its intended audience- fans of the original movie. It has a tone that perfectly befits both the story it tells and the audience it is trying to reach. There are several scenes that take place in a wooded environment, that I thought were very well-shot and well-designed. The set design, too, is characteristic and unique. There are corners of modern-day Salem that look like they haven’t changed since the more colonial Salem we see in the film’s introduction. I thought this was a cool, stylistic choice that helped enhance the environment.
The performances are just as over-the-top as one might expect from a sequel to Hocus Pocus, especially from the three actresses playing the Sanderson Sisters. Fans of the original film will be pleased to see that the essence of these characters is very much kept intact, and there’s a certain amount of nostalgia to be had with them. The younger leads — Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, and Lilia Buckingham — are all likable enough, and the actresses certainly do their part to make their characters as relatable as they can.
However, I don’t think Hocus Pocus 2 accomplishes much more than reminding fans of the original film or why they liked it. It doesn’t try to go anywhere new with its plot or its characters. Rather, much of the movie seems to serve as an excuse to retread old ground in the name of nostalgia. I believe nostalgia is something that works when done well, or when it’s used to further the story of a film or its characters. However, this movie never really uses it to its advantage. It seems to rely on it to lay its foundation more than anything else.
There is also some content I feel I should warn viewers of before they decide to see this movie. It is very much a story about witches and their hobby of dabbling in dark magic, and the way this movie tells its story frames this aspect in a very enticing light. While other magic-based films like those in the Harry Potter franchise use magic as a narrative device for storytelling and world-building, Hocus Pocus 2 almost seems to adopt a thematic undercurrent to communicate that real-world dark magic and rebelling against authority are good things, or at least can be good things. Some may find this message to be problematic.
There are also jokes that are made at the expense of Christianity, and people may be put-off by this as well. For viewers who would take issue with any of these elements this movie depicts, I do recommend you research the content a bit further before giving it a watch.
If you loved the original Hocus Pocus movie, I can’t see you having a bad time watching the sequel. It most likely won’t blow you away, but it could serve as an entertaining venture to get you through the fall season. This isn’t a film for me, but I do think those who enjoy this particular brand of cinema will have an enjoyable experience with it.
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