Is ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ a Bunch Of Hocus Pocus?

Disney’s ‘Hocus Pocus’ has been described as a blockbuster film, but does ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ live up to its predecessors’ legacy? The Bronx Science community doesn’t think so.


Arianna Hwang

Here is the title screen of the original ‘Hocus Pocus’ movie on Disney +. Pictured are the Sanderson Sisters, with Sarah on the left, Winifred (Winnie) in the middle, and Mary on the right.

This article contains spoilers for both the Hocus Pocus and Hocus Pocus 2 films. Please read at your own discretion.

On September 30th, 2022, Disney+ released the movie Hocus Pocus 2 as a sequel for the renowned Hocus Pocus. Both movies feature the revival of the three child-eating witches known as the Sanderson Sisters (portrayed by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy) in Salem, Massachusetts. Given that Hocus Pocus is deemed as an “iconic” film by many viewers, I wanted to see how high school students and staff at Bronx Science felt about its reboot.

Through my polling of the Bronx Science community, it was evident that Hocus Pocus 2 failed to surpass the original. As Ashmita Sarker ’24 said, “It’s not a terrible movie, but it’s not ‘watch-worthy,’ either.” 

Hocus Pocus 

Hocus Pocus follows three protagonists: teenager Max Dennison, his crush, Allison, and his younger sister Dani. In class, Max hears about the tale of Thackery Binx, who encountered the Sanderson Sisters and was turned into an immortal black cat. 

Ms. Sabrina Davis, a teacher in Bronx Science’s Social Studies department, said, “I love the cozy quality used in the way in which it was filmed, and given that I am a softy for black cats, Thackeray Binx was always a highlight. I also love how good and simultaneously bad the special effects are.”

I agree with Ms. Davis. The special effects in Hocus Pocus may be considered poor in today’s terms, but they add charm and nostalgia to the film.


Max’s parents decide to go to a Halloween party, forcing Max, who dislikes Halloween, to take Dani trick or treating. While trick or treating, they encounter Allison, who takes them to the Sanderson Sisters’ abandoned cottage. 

Despite the girls’ plea, Max lights the Black Flame candle in an attempt to impress Allison, claiming that the Sanderson sisters and their story was “just a bunch of Hocus Pocus.” After lighting the candle, the Sanderson Sisters emerge with a raging appetite for children in order to look younger and survive past sunrise. The Sanderson Sisters must use a sentient spell book to create the potion that would allow them to survive. 

Max creates a distraction, takes the spell book, and leaves. In order to catch the children and retrieve her spell book, Winnie Sanderson revives her dead ex-boyfriend Billy Butcherson. 

After evading Billy, the protagonists run to warn Max and Dani’s parents about the presence of the witches. However, Max’s warnings are drowned out through a dancing enchantment the Sanderson Sisters casted through their singing. After the protagonists thwart the Sanderson Sisters’ plot to harm the children of Salem, the sun finally rises and the Sanderson Sisters vanish. 

Hocus Pocus’ original plot holds a special place in the hearts of many. Ms. Elizabeth MacEnulty, another teacher in the Social Studies department of Bronx Science said, “I remember when it first came out when I was a kid, and I loved it! I actually watch it every year with a friend of mine, around Halloween.” 

Hocus Pocus 2

Hocus Pocus 2 has a similar premise to the initial movie and teeters between a sequel and a new movie entirely. At times, watching Hocus Pocus 2 feels more like a fan-made edit of Hocus Pocus with higher resolution rather than its sequel. The only part where there is a continuation of the original plot was in the beginning of the movie, which showed the backstory of the Sanderson Sisters. 

Even before the Sanderson Sisters became witches, they were considered outcasts of their society because they were orphans. When Winnie turned 16, Reverend Traske arranged a marriage for her, but she declined because she was in love with Billy. Reverend Traske threatened to separate the sisters if Winnie did not comply, and the sisters decide to run away to the forbidden forest. There, they meet the Mother Witch who gives them the spell book that they used in Hocus Pocus. Afterwards, the movie transitions back to modern time Salem. 

The first twelve minutes of the sequel did a wonderful job of diving into the Sanderson Sisters’ history and explaining their vendetta. Moreover, the casting of the young witches were on point, and the setting was very elaborate. 

Hocus Pocus 2 revolves around the friendship between teenagers Becca, Izzy and Cassie. Tensions rise as Becca and Izzy feel like Cassie is abandoning them to hang out with her boyfriend and the popular kids at school. 

Here is the title screen of ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ on Disney+ with the Sanderson Sisters in a more modern setting.

The introduction of three completely new characters as the main cast of Hocus Pocus 2 came as a shock to me. I expected Max, Allison and Dani to either reprise their roles as the main characters, show a glimpse into their lives, or appear as a cameo for fans of the original movie. Hocus Pocus 2 did show a flashback of the first movie which included the former main characters, but did not mention them otherwise. The creation of Becca, Izzy and Cassie seemed out of the blue and the concept of a friend group splitting up over popularity is stale, yet the cast did a good job portraying the characters. 

Becca and Izzy go to a witchcraft supply shop located in the Sanderson Sisters’ former cottage to buy some materials for their yearly witch-like ritual in the woods, only this year they don’t invite Cassie. Gilbert, the store owner, gifts the girls a lumpy blue candle to celebrate with. In the meantime, Mr. Traske who is Cassie’s father, a mayoral candidate, and descendent of Reverend Traske organizes a Halloween festival.

Becca and Izzy complete their incantation and to their surprise, the blue candle doesn’t go out but summons the Sanderson Sisters instead. After a failed escape, the duo convince the Sanderson Sisters that they are also witches and take the sisters on a tour around Salem while showing them new innovations. 

Becca and Izzy persuade the Sanderson Sisters that lotion are premade potions that already have the souls of children added in. The Sanderson Sisters fall for their trick and begin gulping down skincare products. They look at a distorted mirror and are certain that the lotion potions did not work. In retaliation, the trio attack Becca and Izzy with their magic powers, but lose them after they misaim and hit the store’s light fixtures instead. 

The usage of lotion as a substitute for potions was, in my opinion, quite a stroke of genius, and it made me chuckle.

The pair take their chance and head back to the magic shop to confront Gilbert. Gilbert claims that he recreated the Black Flame Candle because he saw them disappear as a kid and felt that they were misunderstood. 

Gilbert’s motive made no sense at all. Why would he sympathize with the Sanderson Sisters when he has never interacted with them before and only seen them for a split second? Not to mention, he saw the Sanderson Sisters almost three decades ago when he was just a kid.

In order to track down the two teens, the Sanderson Sisters’ select their broomsticks. Winnie chooses a traditional broom, Sarah grabs a Swiffer and Mary gets a pair of Roombas. The witches arrive at the magic shop and notice Mr. Traske’s campaign posters on the floor. Fueled by revenge, they plot to end the Traske bloodline and lock Becca and Izzy in the basement. Then they cast a spell on Gilbert to force him to get ingredients, including Billy’s head, for a spell that would make them powerful. 

Afterwards, the Sanderson Sisters cast a dancing enchantment on the townspeople, similar to how they did in Hocus Pocus, to get more information on Mr. Traske’s whereabouts. Becca and Izzy escape the basement using Becca’s new powers as a witch and go to Cassie’s house to warn them of their plan to kill Mr. Traske. 

I feel like the story behind Becca’s powers were not explained with enough depth. The Sanderson Sisters seemingly got their powers after enduring much hardship, through their nasty temperament and from the spell book, but Becca just gained magical powers whenever it was convenient (being locked in a basement). The movie did mention that witches gain their powers after their 16th birthday, but it could have explored how witches gain their powers and who gets to become a witch. 

At Cassie’s house, the three teenagers form a truce and successfully trap the Sanderson Sisters in a circle of salt. However, Mary’s Roombas come to the rescue by sweeping up the salt, hence freeing the sisters. 

“From cosmetics to the robot vacuum that ended up saving the sisters’ lives, they ingeniously inputted modern objects we use and warped it to humorously show the older sisters’ reactions to those outlandish gadgets,” said Tenzin Tsephel ’24.

The witches first pursue the teenagers, but Becca fends them off using her powers. Nonetheless, she quickly gets overpowered by the Sanderson Sisters and tells her friends to run away. As Winnie gains more powers from the completion of the spell, Mary and Sarah begin to dissipate as the price to pay for the spell. Winnie regrets casting the spell and begs to reunite with her sisters. After successfully convincing the sentient spell book to take her side, Becca helps Winnie join her sisters in the afterlife. 

Final Thoughts and Takeaways

Hocus Pocus 2 is a mediocre movie that seemed to target an audience who grew up watching Hocus Pocus yet catered more towards children. The sequel featured more songs than the original, most of which were renditions of popular songs with Hocus Pocus themes embedded in them.

Ruby Moran ‘24 observes that, “The first film was just a tad more graphic in visuals and dialogue than the second. Hocus Pocus 2, however, could definitely be enjoyed by elementary school children more than they might enjoy the first.”

Hocus Pocus 2 brought back two other characters (Billy and Gilbert) besides the Sanderson Sisters. Rather than delving into a completely new plot, Hocus Pocus 2 could have focused on more of the Sanderson Sisters’ backstory or the protagonists from the first movie. In a sense, the Sanderson Sisters became secondary characters that served as a source of conflict and reconciliation for Becca, Izzy and Cassie. 

“One of the things that is so funny about the original is looking at how people from the 1600’s would view the world in the 1990’s. Taking the same concept and fast-forwarding it twenty-nine years doesn’t do much,” said Ms. MacEnulty. 

Of the people I interviewed, most indicated that they would not rewatch Hocus Pocus 2. I would only recommend the first twelve minutes of the film to diehard fans of Hocus Pocus, but otherwise would not tell others to watch the sequel. 

It’s not an easy feat to create a sequel to a movie that is almost thirty years old, especially one that is so revered. As Astrid Grimskog-Tran ’26 said, “Nothing beats the original, as it’s just such a classic.”

To watch the original Hocus Pocus film (Disney + subscription required), click HERE.

To watch its sequel, Hocus Pocus 2 (subscription required), click HERE.

“One of the things that is so funny about the original is looking at how people from the 1600’s would view the world in the 1990’s. Taking the same concept and fast-forwarding  it twenty-nine years doesn’t do much,” said Ms. Elizabeth MacEnulty, a Social Studies teacher at Bronx Science.