The Sanderson sisters return to Salem in ‘Hocus Pocus 2’


Matt Kennedy © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson, Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson in HOCUS POCUS 2, exclusively on Disney+. (Photo by Matt Kennedy © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc.)

It’s been 29 years since the first “Hocus Pocus” and Salem’s favorite witches have returned. 

“Lock up your children! Yes Salem, we’re back,” said Winifred Sanderson, played by Bette Midler, the eldest of the Sanderson sisters and the head witch of their coven. 

Also reprising their roles from the first film are Sarah Jessica Parker, playing Sarah Sanderson, and Kathy Najimy, playing Mary Sanderson. 

The film expands on the origin stories and childhood of the Sanderson sisters and what transpired to make them the powerful witches they are today. 

In present-day Salem, Massachusetts, the Sanderson sisters have become local legends. This new movie follows burgeoning witch Becca, played by Whitney Peak, and her friend Izzy, played by Belissa Escobedo.

The friends love practicing calming spells and are fascinated by magic and the lore of the Sanderson sisters. Their curiosity leads them to the woods where they come together for their rituals and to celebrate Becca’s 16th birthday. Unfortunately for Becca and Izzy, their night out ends in disaster when they accidentally resurrect the ancient witches. 

Hilarity ensues when the Sanderson sisters enter the 21st century. This begins a night full of high jinks and mischief. The witches then vow to conquer Salem and regain their youth and power. 

Ashamed of what they have unleashed on the unsuspecting people of Salem, Becca and Izzy work together to attempt to stop the Sanderson sisters from enacting their plan to devour the children of Salem. 

Frustrated by being continually bested by teenagers, the Sanderson sisters devise an even more sinister plan. They plan to use the blood of Mayor Traske, played by Tony Hale, a descendant of Reverend Traske who originally banished the sisters from Salem to enact an all-powerful spell. Amusingly, Reverend Traske is also played by Hale.

In the end, Becca and Izzy reconnect with their old friend Cassie Traske, played by Lilia Buckingham, to form a good witch coven of their own. Cassie is the daughter of the mayor and had been estranged from Becca and Izzy for some time due to Cassie spending too much time with her boyfriend. Together, they grow stronger and stop the Sanderson sisters for good. 

Overall, the movie was quite enjoyable. There were some good laughs and light-hearted, dark humor throughout the film. The tone of the film was nostalgic and goofy.

It stands to say that the original movie, “Hocus Pocus,” was still better. While I enjoyed the expansion of the story and world, I feel that overall the characters and the story was more developed and better paced in the original film. Also, the characters in the first film were much more likable and less cliche.

The acting, although not terrible, left a little to be desired at times. While I enjoyed the lead character, Becca, I thought many of the other characters were a bit stale.  

Cassie’s boyfriend Mike, played by Froy Gutierrez, is goofy, but not much else, adding no depth to his performance and playing nothing more than a typical dumb jock character. The Sanderson sisters refer to a Mother Witch, played by Hannah Waddingham, who gave Winifred Sanderson the spell book, had no real role in the movie, so it would have been nice to see her character more.

I also did not enjoy the fact that the two main protagonists, Becca and Izzy, had no known last names or family to speak of. The whole movie just seems a little bit underbaked in my opinion, and I feel that if they developed these characters more, the story would have had a better impact.

I feel like a TV series of “Hocus Pocus” would work better than a sequel so characters could be flushed out more. Only time will tell if Disney decides to release more stories in the “Hocus Pocus” world, though a scene in the end of the movie does give this thought hope. “Hocus Pocus 2” is now available to stream on Disney+.