Reviews

Hocus Pocus 2 (2022) Review

An entertaining, upbeat romp through Halloween night in Salem, but predictable and unimaginative.

Review score: 7.4 (C+)

Hocus Pocus 2 is a fantasy comedy film directed by Anne Fletcher and written by Jen D’Angelo. The film was distributed by Disney+, and is a sequel to the 1993 film Hocus Pocus.

In the sequel and in real life, it’s been twenty-nine years since the black flame candle has been lit – which is probably the most horrifying part of the Halloween frolic – 29 years?! In 2022, the candle is unwittingly lit by Becca [Whitney Peak] and Izzy [Belissa Escobedo]. Unleashing the Sanderson Sisters into the city of Salem, Massachusetts again, and a very Disney plotline ensues, about friendship, sisterhood, and working together.

Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler, and Kathy Najimy as the Sanderson Sisters in Hocus Pocus 2

The story arc is tried and tested, and it manages to bring Hocus Pocus up to date, with its focus on the friendship of the main three young women. The most likely cause of this is so more movies can be produced in the franchise.

Of course, the Sanderson Sisters themselves are back. Winnie, Sarah, and Mary [Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy] return to Salem with all the flourish and stage presence they are won to do. Frankly, I find the Sanderson Sisters so charming and amusing, they bounce the entertainment value of Hocus Pocus 2 way up.

Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson in Hocus Pocus 2

The main issue I have with the film is the overall lack of the Halloweeny, witchy, magical, autumnal, pumpkin feeling. I understand that I’m not necessarily the target audience for this movie and it’s nice for younger viewers to enjoy the characters of the Sanderson Sisters through an updated lens. However, I don’t think that because the film is aimed at a young audience, the atmosphere must suffer. For example, the atmosphere of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina feels like Halloween. I wish Hocus Pocus 2 would have pushed out the envelope a little more with the set design and misè-en-scene. As it is, the Sanderson Sisters shoulder all the weight.

The lack of atmosphere factors into the overall style of the film, and despite the wondrousness of the costumes of the Sanderson Sisters, the lack of magic in the various scene settings made the overall visual language of the film fall a little short. In addition, the special effects weren’t astounding, and there is nothing remarkable to comment on about the cinematography. The score was composed by long-time Disney collaborator John Debney, and again, there’s nothing particularly notable but it all works together fine. I did, however, enjoy the obligatory musical number.

Overall, Hocus Pocus 2 is a fun film to watch this Halloween season. It’s a very entertaining, upbeat romp through Halloween night in Salem, but ultimately it is fairly mercantile and extremely predictable.

Final rating: 7/10

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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