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Hocus Pocus 2 Review: The Witches are Back

Following the incredible success of Top Gun: Maverick, along with Prey, Scream and also Avatar: The Way of the Water on the horizon, it appears that 2022 is the year for legacy sequels. And after almost three decades, it’s the Sanderson sisters time to FINALLY return to Salem for the highly anticipated sequel to Kenny Ortega’s cult Halloween Disney classic – and thankfully longtime fans can breathe a sigh of relief as this is a bewitchingly worthy (and surprisingly heartfelt) sequel.

Directed by Anne Fletcher, Hocus Pocus 2 charts Wini (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Majimy) and Sarah’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) origins as they cross paths with The Witch Mother (a criminally underused Hannah Waddingham) back in the 17th-century, along with their latest resurrection on – you guessed it – All Hallow’s Eve. As a new group of teenagers unwittingly light the Black Flame Candle and bring about the sisters’ return, they face another race against time to put an end to the ravenous trio wreaking chaos on Salem, as they set out to become the most powerful witches in the world.

The announcement of sequels to beloved films are often (and usually, quite rightly) met with concern and trepidation, especially when said films have become such a big part of household traditions. Hocus Pocus is certainly in that category for me, as aside from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it’s one of the rare slices of media which never failed to bring my sister and I together – so I was admittedly nervous when pressing play on Disney’s latest live-action endeavour. However, as soon as Winnie, Sarah and Mary make their gloriously musical entrance onscreen – they once again put a spell on me.

It’s clear that Kirschner and writer Jen D’Angelo share a real reverence for the original, balancing just the right amount of on-brand barmy comedy and colourful musical numbers with affectionate callbacks and meta moments, all the while further developing the Sanderson sister’s wonderful dynamic with a surprising layer of nuance. Once again the trio find themselves attempting to navigate the 21st century (with a classic cover and hoover in tow, obviously) on their hunt for fresh victims, with a particularly fun “fish out of water” sequence involving anti-aging skincare treatments at Wallgreens proving one of the film’s funniest scenes.

Midler, Parker and Najimy effortlessly slip back into their iconic roles, with an electric on-screen chemistry which feels like no time has past at all. The re-united trio are undoubtedly having a blast and their scenes together really are the most enjoyable of the sequel – with Majimy’s ever endearing Mary almost stealing the show with her delightful roomba acquisition! However, Midler’s Winifred is once again afforded the better one-liners and more substantial arc, truly embodying the film’s celebration of sisterhood and family – shining brightest in the film’s moving climactic monologue.

Taylor Henderson, Juju Journey Brener and Nina Kitchen are also bewitching as the younger version of the sisters – impressively capturing their counterpart’s mannerisms and comedic timing.

Unfortunately the sequel does tend to struggle when the focus shifts to the teen-witch narrative involving friends Becca (Whitney Peak) Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham), predominantly due to the lack of development and screen time afforded to really care for their dynamic. However, there is a charmingly silly B-plot involving Sam Richardson’s Gilbert and Doug Jones’ wonderful fan-favourite zombie Billy Butcherson which certainly brings something fresh to the table!


You better believe the witches are back in the delightfully fun Hocus Pocus 2, the long overdue sequel which will certainly put a spell on you once again! This instalment will undoubtedly usher in new and old fans alike this Halloween, particularly with the betwitching central dynamic and the real earworm of a song – which is well worth watching the credits for.