Hocus Pocus 2 Conjures Indifference

The highly-anticipated sequel to Disney’s 1993 Hocus Pocus arrived on Disney+ Friday, Sept. 30, receiving mixed reviews from fans of the bewitching original.

Reuniting the iconic Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, the film strove to recapture the style and whimsy of its predecessor with some modern twists. The revived classic follows two Salem teenagers, Becca and Izzy, who get wrapped up in the witchy hijinks of the Sanderson Sisters.

“I have to sit in the fans’ seat, right?” director Anne Fletcher told Film Stories. “Because they love this movie. This is why Disney said, ‘Yes, let’s do the sequel.’”

Yet it also renders the Sandersons toothless.

— Brian Truitt

Receiving criticism for its directionless plot and shallow scripting, many found Hocus Pocus 2 to be anything but spellbinding. Fans who grew up with the original are especially disappointed, feeling that it recycles old motifs without bringing anything new to the table. 

“Director Anne Fletcher (The Proposal) at least keeps things moving along, but it could and should be both funnier and scarier,” Empire writer Helen O’Hara said in her review. “There’s nothing fresh here.”

Even though it relies heavily on the charm and occult-ivating themes of the original, audience members have complained about the few changes the movie incorporates. The Sanderson Sisters, in particular, have been softened by the remake, with some viewers feeling they were robbed of their villainous sparkle.

“On one hand, it’s a timely bit of girl empowerment (and one of the only aspects of the movie that kind of works),” movie critic Brian Truitt wrote on USA Today. “Yet it also renders the Sandersons toothless.”

Despite the poor reception, some fans believe the sequel provides a fun reimagining of the eccentric 1993 film. With the cast’s chemistry and the return of the original Sanderson trio, Hocus Pocus 2 is a delightfully nostalgic trip for many of those who watch it.

“For all its flaws, it’s a million miles better than previous seasonal Disney Plus ’90s reboot, the utterly dismal Home Sweet Home Alone,” Senior Editor Richard Trenholm said in his CNET review. “The reunited Midler, Najimy and Parker running amok (amok, amok, amok) bring enough of that ol’ black magic to carry this whimsical caper and keep it from feeling like too much of a cash-in.”

Whether you find yourself bored or enchanted by the remake, Disney’s sequel to Hocus Pocus has undoubtedly garnered attention from movie lovers everywhere. A spooky blast from the past, most people will have something to talk about after watching the film.

“After becoming a beloved cult favorite over the years, the Sanderson Sisters have returned with all new mischievous plans,” IGN Streaming Editor Amelia Emberwig wrote in her review. “It may be cursed with some shoddy greenscreen, but it still reminds us how these witches were able to cast a spell on us in the first place.”