They’re back — the Sanderson sisters have returned to the screen in the Disney+ sequel to Kenny Ortega’s 1993 “Hocus Pocus.” Just like its original, “Hocus Pocus 2” delivers the same laughs, scares and thrills from its star-studded cast featuring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Nijimi.
Unlike the original, “Hocus Pocus 2” begins in 1653 Salem, showing sisters Winnie, Sarah and Mary Sanderson as young girls not yet aware of their witchy powers. Unsurprisingly, Winnie has gotten the sisters in trouble for her refusal to marry one of the village boys and taking the Lord’s name in vain –– twice. Winnie’s actions cause the sisters to be banished from the village and they are chased out by an angry mob. Seeking safety, the girls hide in the Forbidden Forest just outside of town. There they are confronted by a witch who, after realizing she doesn’t want to eat them, gives Winnie the infamous “Book of Witchcraft and Alchemy.” The witch’s only request for the young girls is to never use one spell: Magica Maxima, which is supposed to make them the most powerful witches in the world. Winnie promises to never use it.
A few centuries later, the movie’s main character, Becca, an enthusiast for modern-day witchcraft, is getting ready to celebrate her 16th birthday with a traditional séance in the woods. Becca and her best friend, Izzy, use a particularly spooky-looking candle gifted to them by local Sanderson sister fanatic, Gilbert, to conduct their ritual. When the girls cast the spell, the candle burns out and reignites with a black flame. Before the pair has a chance to run, the Sanderson sisters reappear from their graves and announce their arrival with a Halloween song. The Sanderson sisters want revenge on Salem by killing the mayor, a direct descendant of Salem’s reverend who banished the sisters in 1653. They then want to solidify themselves as the most powerful witches in the world by completing the forbidden spell.
Becca and Izzy are forced to go on a night-long journey to avoid being eaten by the Sanderson sisters, prevent Winnie from getting her hands on her spellbook and protect the town’s mayor. To make matters more complicated, the mayor happens to be the father of Becca and Izzy’s best friend, Cassie, whom the girls have had a falling out with over recent months.
By working together with old friends — like Billy Butcherson, Winnie’s zombie lover, and Cobweb, Gilbert’s black cat who looks all too similar to Thackery Binx — members of Salem are able to fight back against the Sanderson sisters.
Throughout the movie there are a plethora of references to the original. Lyrics from “I Put a Spell on You” are remixed into “One Way or Another.” Additionally, residents dressed up as Lucifer and his housewife make an appearance, and of course, Sarah’s “Come Little Children” song is featured. While the movie does a great job of staying true to the original, there are still many new creative elements that are guaranteed to satisfy fans both young and old.