While there are many baffling sequels planned for streaming services, the return of The Sanderson Sisters makes some sense for Disney+. The 1993 Hocus Pocus didn’t fare well in cinemas, with the Bette Midler family comedy actually losing Disney money.
However, it became a cult classic on TV and home video, making the sequel’s arrival on Disney+ a potential banker for the House of Mouse.
Almost three decades on from the first film, the town of Salem prepares for another Halloween. Teenager Becca (Whitney Peak) celebrates her birthday on this night by indulging in her love of the occult, but is tricked into calling back the evil Sanderson Sisters (Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker).
With the trio looking to exact revenge on a descendant of the town mayor (Tony Hale), Becca and her friends must stop the dark magic from taking over their town. The first film wasn’t perfect, but to its fans it’s a fun ninety minutes propelled by the camp chaos of the three leads.
Director Anne Fletcher (Step Up) recognises this, and after about twenty minutes of setting up the story she lets the ladies run riot. It’s great to see them all slip back into the roles, playing off of each other as the witches marvel at phone filters and virtual assistants. The secondary plot about teenage friendship is quite plain, but also never intrudes on the main event.
Sarah Jessica Parker made the first film before she became a global star, so it’s gratifying to see the style icon still willing to make herself look silly, and join Najimy in quickfire observations about the world around them.
As for Midler, it’s as if she’s been waiting all along to put her ludicrously high wig back on. Acknowledging the film’s LGBTQ+ following with a scene at a drag performance, she and her costars are clearly so fond of the characters that they hold nothing back.
Hocus Pocus 2 isn’t here to convert anyone. If the first movie isn’t on your radar, then it’s unlikely this will be either. However, for the many who made it a spooky season classic, it’s a delicious work of fan service that will cast a spell on you.