Why Parents Should Pass on Disney’s Hocus Pocus 2

Photo by Andrea Davis on Unsplash

Disney’s new Halloween movie, Hocus Pocus 2, continues the sad decline of the once fabled producer of family-friendly entertainment into films that portray evil as hip, trendy, and fun rather than what it is – deadly.

Hocus Pocus 2, which is now streaming on Disney+,  is the sequel to the 1993 film, Hocus Pocus, which is about a trio of witches who were executed in Salem in the 17th century. Legend says the three witches, known as the Sanderson sisters and played by Bette Medler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker, can be resurrected from the dead when a virgin lights the Black Flame Candle on All Hallow’s Eve during a full moon. In the 1993 movie, the witches are inadvertently brought to life by a teenage boy and wreak havoc on the children of the town whom they feed upon in order to stay young. The teens use the witches own spell book to try to stop them. In the end, a battle ensues in which the teen and his friends eventually trick the witches into destroying themselves, but the story ends with the hint that they could possibly come back from the dead once more.

In Hocus Pocus 2, the witches do just that. Three teen girls, Becca, Cassy, and Izzy, who dismiss the legends about the witches, engage in a birthday ritual on All Hallow’s Eve when they light a candle and make wishes. The candle flame turns black and the witches are resurrected.

As Disney describes it: “It’s been 29 years since someone lit the Black Flame Candle and resurrected the 17th-century sisters, and they are looking for revenge. Now it is up to three high-school students to stop the ravenous witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc on Salem before dawn on All Hallows’ Eve.”

Because the witches are presented as evil beings who must be stopped in this movie, Disney could have taught a valuable lesson to teen girls who are dangerously attracted to witchcraft thanks to the popularity of social media’s “Instawitches” and popular fiction that makes “the Craft” seem hip. But Disney squanders this opportunity by presenting the “good girls” as being heavily involved the occult and New Age such as depicting how they pray to the pagan Triple Goddess (Maiden, Mother and Crone) as part of Becca’s birthday ritual.

As Christian reviewer, Emily Clark, reports for Plugged In, “a few people grow upset with them for messing with occult stuff since it causes the return of the Sandersons,” but that doesn’t seem to stop the girls from reaching for everything but Jesus Christ to thwart the mischief of these witches. They resort to spells, potions, crystals and other New Age products to do the job.

This is hardly the way to dissuade teens from dabbling in the occult. But the movie they market as being suitable for children ages 10+ makes its debut in a much different time than the first movie. In 1993, the country was in the waning days of the “satanic panic” era, a time ripe with conspiracy theories about satanic cults. As a result, it had a mediocre showing at the box office, but it developed a cult following over the years that seemed to expand in tandem with the country’s growing fascination with the occult.

“Flash-forward 29 years,” writes Heather Greene for Religion News Service. “Satanic panic is ancient history and modern witchcraft has fully emerged from the proverbial broom closet, legally recognized and accepted as a spiritual path and religion. Pentacles appear on gravestones even in veterans’ cemeteries. Prison chaplains host Wiccan circles and satanists fight openly for religious equality. Occult practices, such as tarot, are now openly practiced by teens from all walks of life and all faiths. The portrayal of witchcraft and the Sanderson sisters in the new film had to change to meet the times.”

This could explain why Hocus Pocus 2 is so much more occult-friendly than the original. In this film, the Sanderson sisters openly call themselves evil, make it clear that they worship Satan, and use “dark powers” to kill people. Even one of the teens who seeks to destroy them is referred to as a witch in the film.

It’s a whole new world since 1993, and the latest Hocus Pocus movie reflects this new paradigm.

“So while Hocus Pocus 2 might seem like spooky PG silliness for some,” Clark advises, “its ‘unholy mischief’ offers plenty of reasons for families to steer clear of this sequel’s occult imagery, ideas and worldview.”

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