Hocus Pocus 2 is the most disappointing sequel ever and these reasons prove why

The filmmakers clearly forgot that the Sanderson sisters are meant to be evil

Without you knowing me personally when I was circa five, it’s quite difficult to put into words how intense my obsession with Hocus Pocus was throughout my childhood and how it lingers in the background of my adult life every time October haunts the calendar. That being said, I’m going to try my damnedest. Just know from the off that what I’m about to write about how Hocus Pocus 2 is one of the most disappointing sequels I’ve ever seen brings me zero joy.

I watched Hocus Pocus so much I burnt out the VHS. Off the back of Mary flying off on a vacuum cleaner when the sisters’ broom are stolen, I had a fascination with hoovers and used to ask people if I was round at their house what sort they had and if I could play on it. There is a rite of passage with gay people that we genuinely just love Hocus Pocus, and I was absolutely no exception. Of course I wanted a sequel, and have longed for such a film to exist my whole life.

We’ve all had to endure the years of being tagged by family members on random Facebook pages posting fake Hocus Pocus 2: The Witch is Back posters that look like they were made by me on Canva in 10 minutes before finally getting a sequel 30 years later – and here are all of the reasons why they just should not have bothered.

First of all, they missed a trick with these icons

When Hocus Pocus starts, it should have ended. It peaks in the first five minutes. The film starts with a glorious bit of backstory for the Sanderson sisters as children in 17th century Salem – and the three actors playing Winifred, Mary and Sarah are an absolute delight. This should have been the whole, charming film. Watching the three get their powers and meeting Mother Witch (the iconic Hannah Waddingham) and the camp as tits Reverend – it’s an absolute blast.

Hocus Pocus 2 should have been an origin story, a fun prequel with none of the original cast. This bit is just so fun, and knowing what’s to come makes out bittersweet. Once the film rockets us to present day, it falls on its arse.

The new teens just don’t cut it

Look, it’s hard to step into the shoes of Max, Dani and Alison – I get it. It’s also hard to recapture that 90s film feeling of adventurous romp that the original does so well – even the clothes of the period just feel more correct. The odds were stacked against the newbies. It’s safe to say they could not cut it.

There’s a sibling bond between Max and Dani that makes Hocus Pocus raise the emotional stakes, and Omri Katz and AcademY Award nominee Thora Birch have real, believable chemistry. The bunch in the sequel are old pals with friendship issues to overcome, but their dynamic is nothing we haven’t seen before in countless reboots and requels on streaming services. It just feels unmemorable.

The Sanderson sisters have lost their touch

Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker have been hankering after this reunion for about 20 years. Bette Midler carts them out to get in all the witch geish and do the odd musical number whenever she can at Halloween these days, and the reunion they did on Zoom in the pandemic was painful to say the least.

In Hocus Pocus 2, the witches are unlikeable. They either repeat jokes from the first film but more forced, or they try and force a chemistry that clearly has’t been active since the 90s. I think the success of the first film is that all the iconic moments are accidentally iconic, whereas here they force them down our gob with the same vigour they gave Emily the potion in the 27th century. It’s truly an endurance task.

The plot is paper thin

The first film runs against the clock with Halloween spirit and emotional stakes. The Sanderson sisters HAVE to suck lives of children before sunrise or they’ll die. Max has to save Dani and stop the witches because he personally brought them back – he’s willing to die for it.

In Hocus Pocus 2, the Sanderson sistaaaahs have been dead for 30 years, as oppose to 300. They seek revenge on Salem and want to kill the descendent of the Reverend who exiled them from Salem when they were children. The kids want to stop the Sanderson and overcome their friendship issues. It’s safe to say it doesn’t quite hit the same, and everything feels wrapped up too neatly and nicely.

The tone is way too nice

I get that the world is different to how it was in 1993, but that doesn’t mean films now have to patronise audiences more. The original Hocus Pocus is dark. It’s a children’s film released by Disney that makes no apologies about the fact its plot is centred around virgins and cannibal, child murdering witches. The Sanderson sisters are buffoonish, but the threat is real. The kids act like grown ups and the stakes are high.

Hocus Pocus 2 is sickly sweet and nice, and that sacrifice of the dark tone for the sake of Halloween joy is integral in making this sequel so disappointing. They do away with evil acts and atrocities and make it all a lot lighter. Why take out one of the fundamental essences of what makes the first so great? The resulting film is toothless.

Hocus Pocus 2 disappointing

Why does Billy Butcherson have a different accent?

Well, why? Doug Jones is still playing him!


The biggest issue I have with Hocus Pocus 2 is why on God’s green earth do the villains of the film get a redemption arc? I mentioned previously that the first film has the witches as daft and likeable, but it never loses sight of how evil the witches are. And murderous. And hungry! Winnie is driven by selfishness and a lust for youth – she is a psychopathic narcissist. There is no way in hell that she would give up power for Sarah and Mary, and to say such as a disservice to the character.

She literally says in the climax of the first film to Max “What a fool to give up thine life for thy sister’s.” She would never do it, even if she loves Sarah and Mary deep down she still loves power and immortality more.

To conclude…

I’ve seen the mixed reception that the disappointing Hocus Pocus 2 has had online, including that of endless love from some fans who are clearly happy with the blast of nostalgia it gave them and to see the three sisters on screen once again. I’m really happy they found so much to love with this film, and as a massive fan I’m envious of the joy they got from it.

I think when recency bias wears off most people will realise this is not the film we deserved, but another entry into the dry world of Disney these days – where everything mushes into one multiverse mess.

Hocus Pocus and the disappointing Hocus Pocus 2 are available for streaming on Disney Plus here.

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