*Spoilers Ahead: This article contains spoilers from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus 2.”
29 years after the initial return of the Sanderson sisters in “Hocus Pocus” (1993), Salem is still a spooky town stuck on the tale of their existence. But when the new trio of friends Becca (Whitney Peak), Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham) are tricked into igniting the infamous Black Candle, the sisters return with another search for eternal life and endless power. This nostalgic sequel kept the spirit alive for Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mary (Kathy Najimy) as well as tied loose ends from the original 1993 film.
In “Hocus Pocus 2,” we finally get the backstory of how the Sanderson Sisters initially gained their powers. They get kicked out of Salem in 1653 as children because Winifred doesn’t want to wed the boy she was arranged to marry. When getting banished, they run towards the “Forbidden Forest,” where a Mother Witch (Hannah Waddingham) greets them. After realizing the trio has an unbreakable bond, she gives them the spellbook and disappears into thin air. In 1993’s “Hocus Pocus,” we were left extremely unaware of how the Sanderson Sisters’ hunger for power was initiated. But alas, we got to witness their villain arcs almost 30 years later.
In real-time Salem, Becca and Izzy are about to celebrate Becca’s 16th birthday and go to the cottage of the Sanderson Sisters to pick up some new crystals after school. It was untouched and closed off completely in the first movie. But the town has embraced the sisters to the point of turning their home into the Olde Salem Magic Shoppe. Homage was even paid to Binx the black cat from the 1993 film: the owner of the shop Gilbert (Sam Richardson) owns an identical cat named Cobweb. Gilbert gifted Becca a candle for her birthday as he knows the girls love to have a ritual in the woods every year to celebrate. Little did they know Gilbert was tricking them into lighting the Black Candle, inciting the mayhem of the Sanderson Sisters because he’s their biggest fan.
And they’re back like they never left, with the same giant teeth, beautiful gowns and goofy personalities. The sisters are exactly how I remember them in the 1993 film. This time, they reveal they are back not only to stay past sunrise but to have endless power. This means they have to put a spell on themselves that has never been done before in a coven.
There aren’t many differences between the characters in “Hocus Pocus 2” compared to “Hocus Pocus.” If anything, Winifred isn’t as much of the main character, as we see much more personality and lines from both Sarah and Mary. Sarah is still boy-crazy and whimsical, Mary is still an airhead and Winifred is still the ringleader. People are either split on whether they are just women in costume or the real Sanderson Sisters ready to eat children, and only a small number of Salem citizens know they are back from the “dead.” Disney managed to take all of the inconveniences the sisters went through in the first movie and give them a modern twist. For example, when Winifred says “we must fly” to her sisters, Mary responds (in both films) “with what?” In 1993, it was a rusty vacuum. In “Hocus Pocus 2,” there were two Roomba vacuums. The small details similar to this moment kept the nostalgia running, and I like that there was even a scene where Mary walks by a house and a couple is watching “Hocus Pocus” on their television.
The ending was bittersweet and definitely gave me a few tears. Winifred finally casts the power-hungry spell, and once again they think they’re in Salem to stay past sunrise. But the spell required a price be paid: what she valued most, her sisters. As they fade into dust, we finally see a sentimental and caring side to the usually heartless ringleader. Becca, who discovered her powers early when trying to escape the sisters, uses magic to reverse the spell, and we see Winifred join her sisters. Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones) was the zombie that didn’t have much screen time in the first movie. We finally learn Winifred and Sarah fought over him, leading to him being cursed. He later finally gets to speak his truth, and Gilbert promises to spread his story correctly after he returns to the grave. Then the spellbook was handed off to Becca so the sisters could continue their legacy (cue the tears). Everything seemed to fall into place beautifully.
From the ending, we can gather that we won’t see another return from the Sanderson Sisters, but this sequel was much needed. The reviews have been spectacular, and rightfully so. Disney was able to make the almost 30-year gap feel like nothing because of how many subtle tributes the sequel paid to the original. I loved this movie, and the nostalgia had me choking up at the end. So not much has changed for the fate of the Sanderson Sisters since 1993, but it’s better off that way.
“Hocus Pocus 2” is available to stream on Disney+.
By Amena Ahmed