As a child, I used to watch this every Halloween and I always believed it was a classic. I had not seen Hocus Pocus in quite some time, so it made perfect sense to revisit it as part of my October movie marathon.
If you forgot, Hocus Pocus is about three witches who were hanged over the disappearance of Thackery and Emily Binx back in the 17th century. Fast forward to the present day of this film and the witches, known as the Sanderson Sisters have become folklore in the town. Our protagonists Max, Dani, and Allison stumble upon the Sanderson house on Halloween night and unknowingly bring the witches back to life. The Sanderson sisters go on to wreak havoc in the town of Salem, Massachusetts as they go on the quest to take children’s souls so they can live permanently.
Now, while I love this movie, it is still heavily flawed.
The writing and every plot point are so convenient to keep the movie going along. *The witches need a virgin to light a candle on Halloween night*: Max lights the candle on Halloween night to bring the witches back to life. *Winnie needs her spellbook to perform any spells*: The majority of the film is spent with the witches chasing our protagonists to find the book. It almost feels like first-draft writing was used in this movie. The dialogue is cringeworthy at best. One of the opening scenes has Max saying that he is dressed like a “rap singer”, followed by his dad turning his hat sideways…. And let’s not forget our beloved duo in Jay and Ernie…I meant “Ice”.
Outside of the Sanderson sisters, the acting is tepid. Omri Katz, who plays Max, is not very good at showcasing his emotions. The writing says one thing but his mannerisms display a completely different feeling.
Also, in a year when we got the CGI-mastery known as Jurassic Park, Disney failed to convincingly generate a realistic-looking cat. Thackery Binx was struck with a spell that permanently turned him into a cat and he looks TERRIBLE. The movement of the mouth and the close-up shots were egregious to watch. The thought of seeing Binx in 4K is horrifying.
Now onto the positives.
Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy are iconic as the Sandersons. They are over-the-top in their performances but they hit the perfect notes that you would want from characters like these. Their struggle to adapt to the new world and figuring out what is going on is hilarious and I wish the movie would show more of these struggles than our bland protagonists’ quest to defeat the sisters.
The Halloween vibes hit every feeling that you get in this month. From the trick-or-treating scenes to the setting with all the Fall-looking trees, it hits every note and why this movie is so likable.
Not all movies are made to be award-worthy. Hocus Pocus knows what it is trying to be and it does it very well. Say what you want about the acting and the CGI but have some fun with this movie. You have to be soulless to hate this movie.