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Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)

Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker as witches in Hocus Pocus 2 Disney movie

It seems like only last week we were experiencing a heatwave the likes of which we’ve never seen before (here in the UK at least). Yet here we are, golden leaves falling from the trees, weather on the turn for the worse, switching on our central heating at bankruptingly high prices, and rapidly approaching Halloween already! Where did the last year go?!

Just like Valentine’s Day brings the release of new romcoms, and Christmas, new festive-themed films, the lead up to Halloween (as you’d well expect) is the ideal time for studios to throw out new horror and supernatural-related features for us film-loving public to gorge on.

You’d have have to have been living under a rock or in a cave to not be aware that the long awaited sequel to a much beloved 90s movie came to Disney+ last night.

Mrs Screen Room Movie Blog is a huge fan of said original film, so guess what we watched last night…

Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)

Love it or hate it Hocus Pocus is regarded as a classic by a LOT of fans. I have to admit, I’m one of them.

Yes it’s silly and a bit campy, and yes it features musical numbers (Hello! Bette Midler stars in the lead role!?) but it’s a whole heap of fun and has that 90s magic (pun intended) that makes it a regular go-to in my house.

I’m pleased to say that the sequel doesn’t disappoint.

Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker as witches in Hocus Pocus 2 Disney movie

If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a family/fantasy/comedy that sees the long awaited return of Bette Midler (The First Wives Club), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City), Kathy Najimy (Sister Act) and Doug Jones (The Shape of Water) to the roles that proved so popular with fans the first time around.

This time however they’re joined by a new generation of fresh-faced newcomers in the form of Whitney Peak (Gossip Girl), Belissa Escobedo (American Horror Stories), Lilia Buckingham (Crown Lake) and the loveable, not-so-newcomer, Sam Richardson (Werewolves Within) among many others.

This is what it’s about according to the internet:

“Three young women accidentally bring back the Sanderson Sisters to modern day Salem and must figure out how to stop the child-hungry witches from wreaking havoc on the world.”

Ok, as far as synopsise go, that’s a pretty vague one, but believe me there’s slightly more to it than that.

I’m always dubious if not heavily cynical when it comes to these kinds of belated sequels. We’ve been let down so many times in the past that it’s all too easy to expect the worst before even watching the film. I have to say though, I enjoyed this movie. It actually has much of the same charm that makes the first one so enjoyable but it cleverly re-invents itself for a new generation while at the same time remembering where it came from.

Sam Richardson in Hocus Pocus 2 Disney movie about witches

I mentioned in a post not too long ago that I recently watched an interview with Jim Carrey. In it he said that when an actor revisits a character they played years earlier, there’s a danger of them imitating or mimicking that character rather than embodying it. He thinks it's because by then the actor is a completely different person to who they were when they first played that character.

I’ve seen that exact thing in a number of belated sequels (Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted Face the Music to name just one) but it’s definitely not the case here. Although 29 years may have passed and each of the original characters is showing those years to varying degrees, it’s as if the three main stars only played the roles yesterday.

The one actor who doesn’t look a day older than they did in the first film (probably because he’s a zombie) is Doug Jones who plays Billy Butcherson. He was easily my favourite character in the movie - aside from “Book” who, despite being an inanimate object somehow managed to provoke a lot of emotion during certain parts of the film.

At the very beginning of the movie we get to see the Sanderson sisters as young girls in Salem in 1653.

The three actresses who play the young Sandersons are very good - however it’s easy at this early point in the film to over critique their performances. It’s not till later once you’ve settled into the movie that I think you appreciate how good they actually are.

The newcomers to the Hocus Pocus world all do an excellent job.

To be clear, this is not one of those belated sequels that attempts to hand over the franchise to a younger audience with the idea of ditching the original characters further on down the line.

One of the reasons I didn’t love Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) as much as the rest of the film-going public is because of how little involvement the original cast members had in it - especially after it was promised they’d have much more prominent roles than in the 2016 reboot.

These older movies are what they are thanks to certain elements - most often: The cast, the story and the era the film came out.

Hocus Pocus wouldn’t be Hocus Pocus without the Sanderson Sisters and the actors who played them, and they (thankfully) are an integral part of this sequel. That said the newcomers feel very at home and welcome in a non-forced way and hold their own under (I’m sure) a great deal of pressure.

All in all I enjoyed this movie. I thought it did a good job of re-inventing itself while at the same time staying true to its origins.

The story is quite original and it doesn’t try too hard like a lot of these sequels often do. It’s actually quite funny too!

Actor Doug Jones as a zombie in Hocus Pocus 2 Disney movie

If I’m honest I was a little disappointed that none of the actors from the first film turned up for even a small cameo. Saying that though, I quite often complain about how that can feel forced, so maybe emitting them completely and focussing on a completely new story is what sets this belated sequel apart from a lot of the others.

This sequel was never going to be as well loved as the first film, but it’s worth noting that on release Hocus Pocus lost Disney a fair bit of money and was met with a mixed to negative reception. It’s only thanks to home video and the fact that it’s been played on TV every year around Halloween since that it’s gained such a die hard following.

I think any self-respecting fan of the first Hocus Pocus movie will love seeing the Sanderson Sisters back for one more dastardly outing (even if their musical numbers aren’t as good as in the first one).

It might not have quite the same charm as the original 1993 movie but it makes a decent attempt at re-creating what made that film so popular, and for that it has to be applauded.

Will Hocus Pocus 2 be embraced and treasured by this generation as the first one was by ours? I highly doubt it, but that’s not necessarily down to the quality of the film. It’s more down to the fact that audiences are harder to please these days due to having way more choice in what to watch, not to mention having “seen it all” already…!

Originality and the era in which a movie is made (I think) can define it.

In a time where originality is scarce and the era is one in which not offending people, and attempting to include every group or “community” seems to take priority, I sadly can’t see any new film achieving the same status as any of the classics from previous decades that are still infinitely rewatched today.

This might not be a Top Gun: Maverick (2022) standard belated sequel but in my opinion it’s a worthy one.

If you’re a fan of the original I’d definitely encourage you to give this a watch.

Already seen it? Let me know your thoughts below.


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