This Saturday marks my favourite holiday: Halloween! And, while this year will be different, I will still be carving a Pumpkin, dressing up and watching horror films. However, this is a Disney article, so horror films aren’t an option here. But that doesn’t mean I can’t write about a Halloween-themed film!
Originally, I was going to write a review on ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ which is one of my favourite Tim Burton films. However, I have seen this film so many times to the point of knowing the script by heart, so wanted to pick something different. And, after noticing how fondly some people speak of ‘Hocus Pocus’, I decided to watch this film instead.
‘Hocus Pocus’ was a Disney live-action film that was released in 1993. After teenager, Max, moves to Salem and accidently awakens three 17th century witches, he, his sister Dani, his love interest Allison and a talking cat try to stop the witches from casting a spell over the town to regain their youth.
Admittedly, I have seen this film before, but when I was little. Therefore, the only thing I remember was the cat and the song ‘Come Little Children’ that is performed by one of the witches. However, after watching the film, I would definitely call this a perfect family Halloween film. Set during Halloween night, the film includes all the hallmarks of the seasonal holiday: a spooky house in the woods, cauldrons, a black cat, trick or treating and three evil witches, The Sanderson Sisters!
The Sanderson Sisters, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy and Bette Midler, are fantastic as evil and creepy witch siblings, who now must adjust to the modern world for 24 hours, after being awoken 300 years later. Their view on the modern world brings in most of the film’s jokes, but they all bring in a serious tone, even from the opening scene. The idea of a child being sucked of her life so that the witches can regain their youth, to the child’s brother then being into a talking cat that is immortal is terrifying…and that’s just the opening scene! The portrayal of them is also almost animalistic; they’re mythical creatures that have literally been to Hell and back; they’re not supposed to be human. They can smell children and will hunt them in order to regain their youth, and that, in itself, is scary. However, they are siblings and have disagreements and fights, which gives them an oddly relatable charm, even if you don’t agree with their actions.
Unfortunately, the film’s only issue is Max, the main character, played by Omri Katz. He starts as an annoying moody teenager, who hates his move from L.A to Salem, to someone that is solely responsible for awakening the witches. And, while he learns to like his sister Dani, he doesn’t really grow too much as a person. It’s a shame that he’s the main character because he ruins this film to an extent. Another issue, which is more of a small nitpick, is the CGI revolving around the cat whenever he speaks; it looks very cartoon-like. However, this was released in 1993, where CGI was not as mastered as it is nowadays so, like previously mentioned, this is a minor nitpick.
Overall, ‘Hocus Pocus’ is a fun and perfect family Halloween film. While its main issue is the lead character, what brings it to life is The Sanderson Sisters and its fun story and spooky setting of Salem. The film oozes Halloween and would make for a perfect spooky, but safe, film for kids to watch during the holiday. Light the Pumpkin, dim the lights and enjoy!
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