The return of the Sanderson sisters in Hocus Pocus 2 has been a success for Disney+, in viewership in not overwhelmingly in reviews. For some, the comedy of the sequel has overridden the spooky feel of the 1993 original, becoming overly silly and making the movie less likely to scare the small kiddies. However, even though Hocus Pocus managed to balance its comedy and low-level scares well back in the early 90s, according to the movie’s star it was almost a much scarier film.
Vinessa Shaw starred as Allison in the original movie, but along with her then-young co-stars Thora Birch and Omri Katz, Shaw did not return for the sequel. While she and her other co-stars have said they would certainly consider coming back if asked in the event of a third movie being made, Shaw recently revealed to Entertainment Weekly that Hocus Pocus was originally meant to be a much scarier movie, but that evolved over time. She said:
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“I remember reading an original draft that was much scarier, and that was the draft we auditioned with. When we started shooting, it became a funny version, much lighter. It had the female Three Stooges element in it, and all the choreography that was added lent itself to a much more comedic movie bringing out the strengths of the actresses. I think that’s why the movie is beloved. Obviously, the witches and what they’re doing – sucking the lives out of children – is scary, but the fact that it’s done in a comedic fashion is palatable.”
Did Hocus Pocus 2 Dumb Down Its Scares?
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Many believe that anything Disney delivers has to come with a low-threat level and be all wholesome and good. That is how many cried foul over the studio claiming the likes of the Alien and Predator franchises as part of the merger with Fox, and the R-rated Deadpool movies. However, while those movies are aimed at a mature audience and seem to be staying that way, Disney’s handling of children’s movies and shows has drifted from some of the best family movies of decades gone by in favor of removing anything that could be deemed too scary.
Many reviews have suggested this is what many viewers believe has happened with Hocus Pocus 2. The original movie had some genuinely creepy and spooky moments that would potentially have little ones hiding behind the cushions. The sequel, not so much. There are still some ghoulish moments but the majority of the movie is played out for the comedy potential only, with the scares being very low level. Even Doug Jones’ Billy Butcherson isn’t as much of a scary addition as he was in the original movie, but that doesn’t mean that the film will not continue to be popular over Halloween.
In the end, Hocus Pocus 2 seems to play safe on many counts by taking the basic template of the original movie and making some minor changes to what is ultimately the same story. That seems to have worked for many other movies over the last decade – The Force Awakens, anyone? – and it has certainly worked for Hocus Pocus 2 considering the movie has ended up breaking records on its steaming debut. Hocus Pocus 2, and Hocus Pocus, are currently streaming on Disney+.