Hocus Pocus 2 revives the heart and soul of the original film with its resurrection of the Sanderson Sisters. Sequels do not always uphold the original, but in this case, Hocus Pocus 2 is just as fun as its predecessor.
The story is different, which allows the movie to differentiate itself from the previous film. This time, the Sanderson Sisters get an origin story of their own, spending some time showing the girls in their youth. Even then, it is a somewhat tragic story, with Reverend Traske banishing Winifred from Salem and ordering her separation from her sisters, Sarah and Mary.
Refusing to be separated, the girls escape together the second everyone panics at seeing a spider—their rush to the forest results in learning about their connection to magic.
In the present day, the story surrounds Becca, who plans on celebrating her sixteenth birthday with an annual tradition. Becca and Izzy’s interest in witches and magic have them visit Gilbert’s magic shop before their ritual, where Gilbert gifts Becca a candle to use.
But that is when things no longer go according to plan. Becca and Izzy venture into the forest for the birthday tradition, only for the lighting of the candle to quickly become far more dangerous than they had anticipated. It had not been any ordinary candle they had lit, but a Black Flame candle, the same type that can revive the Sanderson Sisters.
Terrified by what they have achieved, Becca and Izzy quickly try to rid themselves of the witches, but when things take turns for the worst, such as the Sanderson Sisters wanting to aim at their old friend Cassie’s father; it is up to Becca and Izzy to stop them.
Hocus Pocus 2 uses plenty of fun nostalgia from the original movie, such as Winifred, Sarah, and Mary performing a song for the crowd that leads to them being possessed by a spell.
However, Hocus Pocus 2 is also a movie that wants to devote its storyline to friendship and sisterhood. Becca and Izzy share the movie’s central friendship, but their complicated dynamic with Cassie adds another layer to their relationship.
It is clear that the trio had once been best friends, but things between them had been strained, with Cassie seemingly leaving Becca and Izzy behind. However, in Cassie’s perspective, it turns out Becca and Izzy had been the ones to abandon her. With all three hurt from the loss of a significant friendship, none take the time to honestly discuss what happened until after the three have temporarily trapped the Sanderson Sisters.
Although they reunite, it is just in time for the Sanderson Sisters to move against them, taking Cassie along to complete the spell. This also leads the movie into how Winifred, Sarah, and Mary’s relationship is another critical dynamic of the film.
Winifred completes a powerful spell she had once promised never to use. In Winifred’s desire to become all-powerful, she ignored the warnings that Book tried to explain. Unfortunately, Winifred’s eternity of power means she loses her sisters, who mean the most to her, to pay the price.
As Sarah and Mary disappear, Hocus Pocus 2 creates a way to give its villains a more layered approach. Winifred is devastated at the loss of her sisters, and the power she just gained no longer matters. An eternity of power means nothing without her sisters.
By going in this direction, Hocus Pocus 2 makes the Sanderson Sisters more than just fun villains. They are also, to a degree, more humanized. For example, Winifred would rather have her sisters than power and join them in death than live on without them.
In the end, Becca, Izzy, and Cassie get to walk away, with an ending that suggests they may be continuing their friendship, as well as practicing magic as a Coven with Becca’s decision to keep Book.
Hocus Pocus 2 succeeds in modernizing the story and characters. However, it also remembers how to be a family-friendly scary movie.