Hocus Pocus 2 Reviews Are In, See What Critics Are Saying About The Sanderson Sisters’ Return

The Sanderson Sisters are back, and just in time for Halloween, albeit 29 years after the original movie became an annual fall tradition. Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker have reprised their roles, and are joined by some pretty great new cast additions, including Hannah Waddingham, Tony Hale, Sam Richardson, Whitney Peak and more. Anticipation is through the roof ahead of its September 30th release to those with a Disney+ subscription, and the reviews are in to give us a sense of what to expect and see how the sequel ties into the first movie.

First reactions to the Hocus Pocus sequel were overwhelmingly positive, as it seems Winnie, Mary and Sarah Sanderson are summoned back to Salem by three high school students via black flame candle. The witches are hungry for revenge and, presumably, children. So let’s see what the critics are saying, starting with the CinemaBlend review of Hocus Pocus 2. Our own Mike Reyes rates the film 3.5 stars out of 5, saying it doesn’t miss a beat bringing back the magic. While this movie isn’t as dark as the original, it’s just as funny, he says: 

Digging into the origins of the Sandersons and their relationship with magic is only part of how Hocus Pocus 2 finds a comfortable middle ground between the past and the present. Through the inclusion of easter eggs, callbacks, and backstory that acknowledge the first adventure, the film obviously holds its older sibling close to its heart. In the same breath, it's a new spell that is being cast almost 30 years later.

Jude Dry of IndieWire grades the film a B-, saying the sequel is satisfying enough for those who rewatch the original Hocus Pocus each fall. The plot and the jokes are basically the same as the first time around, but you really can’t go wrong with the caliber of talent the three stars bring to the screen. The critic says:

But it’s the witches’ world; everything else is just scenery to get these three back on broomsticks together. Unfortunately, their mean streaks seem to have softened over the years, and the movie relies on a manufactured sisterly bond to wrap things up. The script adds a saccharine sweetness along with its teen feminist morality play, as if it’s far too aware of sending a message. Some things, it seems, are better left buried.

Meagan Navarro of Bloody Disgusting rates the sequel 3.5 skulls out of 5, also noting that the Sanderson Sisters aren’t quite as menacing this time around, but they still have that magical touch, and the trio of professionals slip back into these iconic roles easily. More from the review: 

Director Anne Fletcher, working from a screenplay by Jen D’Angelo, marries nostalgia with a modern story for a new generation. The sequel offers the familiar elements that made the original memorable while adding a few new layers to the Sandersons’ history. Iconic lines, song spells cast over unsuspecting Halloween partygoers, black cats, the fleshy spell book, and lovable zombie Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones) all make grand returns.

Lovia Gyarkye of THR says Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are electric, with their scenes being the most enjoyable in the movie, even though — as other critics have also noted — the characters have been softened. The film struggles a little in how to honor the OG movie while still progressing the story, but the end product is still satisfactory, the writer says: 

Hocus Pocus 2, the highly anticipated sequel to the original Disney film, honors its history without knowing quite how to move beyond it. Directed by Anne Fletcher, the live-action comedy film bears the markings of a struggle between embracing existing fans and courting new ones. Recycled plot points, jaunts down memory lane and knowing winks at the broader fandom are rolled into the type of sleek CGI package that’s typical of Disney offerings these days. The result is a thin but satisfactory piece of entertainment.

Maggie Lovitt of Collider gives Hocus Pocus 2 a B+, also noting that the lead trio is an absolute delight to see reunited. The sequel is full of nostalgia, relaying messages about friendship and sisterhood. The critic says: 

Ultimately, Hocus Pocus 2 is a film about sisterhood, friendship, and the importance of our choices. A witch is only as strong as her coven, and she’s nothing without that fellowship. It summons the magic of nostalgia with laughs, heart, and music, and perfectly satisfies the heart of audiences trying to rekindle the past.

Brian Truitt of USA TODAY (opens in new tab), however, calls the sequel “wretched,” rating it just 1.5 out of 4 stars. He says the Sanderson sisters are more filler than killer in this follow-up, but that the younger trio aren’t given the character development they need either: 

The witches are done dirty, yet the youth movement also isn't well served. There are so many Easter eggs and callbacks to the original Hocus Pocus piled on that the teens don’t have the focus they need to be fleshed-out heroes of the story.

If you’ve been looking forward to adding Hocus Pocus 2 to your annual watch list, you don’t have to wait much longer! The sequel is set to hit Disney+ on Friday, September 30. And with October knocking on our doors, check out our list of upcoming horror movies. You can also see what else is coming soon to theaters with our 2022 Movie Release Schedule.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.