Hocus Pocus Review: The Perfect Halloween Movie

Staff Writer: David McCallister

Back in the early 1990s, Disney released a small film called Hocus Pocus in the summer of 1993. Received negatively at the time of release and with a mediocre box office return, Hocus Pocus fell into obscurity for over twenty years. 

Recently, the film has resurfaced with a cult following and is now considered one of the essential Halloween films to watch during the fall season. Hocus Pocus is a fantastic Halloween movie, full of heart and comedy that makes it timeless and rewatchable throughout all of October.

The plot of Hocus Pocus follows the Sanderson Sisters, who after setting a curse on the town of Salem, emerge three hundred years. Chaos ensues and a group of teenagers must stop the witches from achieving their goal of gaining immortality.

The greatest strength of Hocus Pocus is the heart of the film. From the very beginning, the audience can enjoy and fear the Sanderson Sisters, while also being able to connect the protagonists. Having the antagonists be so likable and humorous elevate the film and create a warm tone that projects the essence of Halloween. 

Bette Midler gives an amazing performance as the main sister Winifred, as well as her co-stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy. Without these performances, Hocus Pocus would be forgotten. The chemistry of these three actresses creates so many memorable scenes and moments that if they were ultimately not there, the film would be dull and lifeless.

The film is also accessible to everyone. Younger audiences can enjoy the slapstick humor and less intense Halloween film while adults can enjoy the innuendos and humor that is spread throughout the film. Hocus Pocus is the perfect Halloween film; it is accessible to so many and is extremely rewatchable with the fantastic pacing. 

Hocus Pocus clocks in at just 96-minutes, and it flies through the story and action quickly, there is rarely a point where the film drags. The film can drag though in the final act, as the climax feels repetitive and overdrawn to make the film longer.

Looking at the writing of Hocus Pocus, the script is tight with great comedic execution and style. The comedy works incredibly well and holds up to this day. The adult jokes are amazing, and really show how old the audience must be to fully understand everything being said in the film. This script was clearly written around the Sanderson Sisters, as they get most of the best dialogue and lines, while the teenagers and other side characters lack that emotion.

While Hocus Pocus’ is a great film, there are a few issues with the film. Some scenes feel awkward and out of place due to the acting and execution of the soundtrack. Music plays a major part in the film, as it helps convey the emotions the audience should feel while watching. 

The soundtrack can be off-putting as the score doesn’t match the tone of the scene, or it feels so overbearing and emotional when it shouldn’t be. Most scenes do not have this issue, but it is noticeable when it happens and takes the viewer out of the film.

The appeal of Hocus Pocus has had a resurgence in recent years, and it is justified. The movie holds up so well and has now become a classic Halloween movie. The heart and soul of the film make it incredibly fun to watch. Hocus Pocus is the timeless classic it has become today, and is a fantastic watch to get into the Halloween mood this month.

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