The Sequel Spell

It’s not just a bunch of hocus pocus, as the three iconic witches reprise their roles in Hocus Pocus 2.


Disney Plus

The Sanderson Sisters hex our screens one more time in the new Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus 2.

Sierra O'Neil, Staff Writer

“Come, we fly!” exclaimed Winifred Sanderson in the original Hocus Pocus film that hexed a magical fandom. The release of Hocus Pocus 2 conjures a new batch of Sanderson supporters and excites fans of the original production. 

Nearly three decades after the release of Hocus Pocus in 1993, Disney has produced a spell-binding sequel to the fall cult classic. Hocus Pocus 2 was released on Disney Plus on September 30, 2022, tapping into nostalgia and giving rise to an astounding new fan base. 

Bette Midler (Winifred Sanderson), Kathy Najimy (Mary Sanderson), and Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah Sanderson) reprise their roles as the Sanderson Sisters. The three witches return to Salem, Massachusetts to wreak havoc and stir up a little revenge potion. 

The movie opens with a flashback scene from 1653, which references the original Hocus Pocus film. The flashback, provided to explain the childhood of the three Sanderson sisters, begins with a crow flying over Salem, reminiscent of the original. Reverend Traske, portrayed by Tony Hale, attempts to marry Winifred off. When she refuses, she and her sisters are dragged away and soon thereafter escape to the forbidden forest. There they are not so pleasantly greeted by Mother Witch—who’s got an appetite for children. After recognizing the power of the sisters, Mother Witch pardons the girls from their impending doom. She gifts Winifred the iconic, one-eyed spell book and educates the girls on two vital lessons: Eat children to remain youthful, and never cast the Magicae Maxima spell. The flashback hints at old memories for fans while unveiling the climax of the movie. 

Then, in a not-so-literal puff of magical smoke, viewers are transported to modern-day Salem, with the suspicion that the sisters are awaiting their entrances. 

The three sisters and the half-dead love interest, Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones), reprise their chilling roles in the sequel. Unfortunately, Max (Omri Katz) and Dani (Thora Birch) Dennison were not asked to appear in the sequel. 

Katz, who is retired from acting, called the sequel a “new direction,” adding that, while it lacks the eclectic cast and symbols, “I think it’ll be good for everyone who loved the original!”

The new film is based around a group of best friends, Becca (Whitney Peak), Izzy (Belissa Escobedo), and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham). 

On the night of Becca’s sixteenth birthday—a defining occasion for any witch—she and Izzy sneak out to the woods to practice their magical tradition. Except that this is no ordinary blowing out the candles on a store-bought cupcake, for the candle they intend to use is a Black Flame Candle. This oddly shaped candle, while bearing no resemblance to the initial candle in Hocus Pocus—originally lit by Max—still holds the same evil power. 

When Izzy lights the candle (given to her by the not-so-clever Sanderson fan, Gilbert the Great) under a full moon on Halloween night, it empowers the Sanderson Sisters to make their miraculous return. In a magical and musical number, the sisters are back — with a plan. The song “I’ll Put A Spell On You” nods to the original with a more modern and energetic twist.

The sisters plan to go after the descendants of Reverend Traske, Winifred’s former matchmaker and oldest enemy. She selects Mayor Trakse and wavering friend Cassie Traske. The movie follows the sisters as they attempt to sacrifice Cassie in order to end a century’s long grudge.

The sisters spend Halloween in numerous devilish event by making a visit to the local CVS drugstore, nearly winning a Sanderson Sister Costume Contest, and trying to attempt the Magicae Maxima spell. The spell intends to grant the caster unimaginable power. For Winifred, this spell is a dream come true, except it comes with a hefty price—taking what you love most. While the spell gives Winifred her cherished desire it takes her greatest need, her two sisters. The book that gave power to Winifred and helps the three best friends shows Winifred the consequences of her greed. In the end, Winifred opts to be reunited with her sisters. 

Sadly, the movie lacks its most recognizable elements, like the talking black cat, Thackery Binx, in addition to a truly family feeling with the original Dennison’s brother-sister conflict. However, the hidden Easter eggs are likely to delight new and old fans. 

In the new Magic Shop, we see remakes of the Sanderson Sisters’ most iconic gear and ingredients for the most heinous spells. The costumes and mannerisms are spot on, and the three ladies never lose their sparkle. 

The small references are perfectly modernized and even add comedic relief. The robot vacuums and Swiffer Wet Jets as flying brooms feel like relevant jokes. Every detail, from salt barriers to Mary’s mouth switching (now on the left rather than the right), is an accurate continuation of a Halloween classic. 

Allowing three independent teens to shine shows director Anne Fletcher’s desire for greater female representation.

While it’s a bittersweet moment for many original fans, Hocus Pocus 2 is a splendid ode to a Halloween classic. However, there’s is no doubt the Sanderson Sisters’ legacy continues. A post credit scene hints at more Hocus Pocus to come in the future.

So may the crow fly again, the eye be awoken, and the Sanderson Sisters hex our screens once again.