Hocus Pocus 2 Can Deliver On The Original's Dark Original Draft

Disney’s cult classic Halloween movie is getting a sequel, and Hocus Pocus 2 can benefit from delivering on the original’s dark first draft. Released in 1993, Hocus Pocus received middling reviews from critics and underperformed at the box office. However, the spooky comedy has grown in popularity over the years, in large part due to its annual TV airings. In 2018, Hocus Pocus’ 25th anniversary was celebrated with a reunion special, filmed at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

The beloved Disney movie is set in Salem, Massachusetts, and follows teenager Max Dennison (Omri Katz) and his younger sister, Dani (Thora Birch). On Halloween night, a skeptical Max tries to impress classmate Allison (Vinessa Shaw) and accidentally resurrects the Sanderson sisters, who were executed for witchcraft in 1693. The villainous Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary (Kathy Najimy) must suck the life out of a child to complete their reawakening before sunrise. Although the Sanderson sisters were seemingly killed, the trio of witches will return in 2022's Hocus Pocus 2, premiering on Disney+.

Related: Why Disney Needs To Make A Hocus Pocus Prequel

The original Hocus Pocus emphasized comedy over scares, but screenwriter Mick Garris revealed his first draft was considerably darker. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly [via Yahoo], Garris stated the film originally focused on 12-year-olds, which would have made the protagonists' ordeal “more explicitly frightening.” For Hocus Pocus 2 to differentiate itself from the original and overcome apprehension about an unnecessary sequel, the solution is to honor the original's intentions by going darker. The movie should retain its sense of humor, but repeating the same jokes would cheapen the characters.

Hocus Pocus 2 must recapture the whimsical, spooky atmosphere of Halloween that made the original Hocus Pocus so popular. However, it also needs to prove why a perfectly self-contained story warrants a sequel, especially one releasing almost 30 years later. It can't simply rely on nostalgia, which already masks some of the first movie's flaws. Hocus Pocus has a very simple narrative that's massively supported by the charmingly retro effects and terrific enthusiasm radiating from the Sanderson actors. The same gimmicks might not work a second time, and a sequel boasting even more comedy would detract from the witches' ability to appear threatening. 1993's Hocus Pocus already covered the fish-out-of-water culture clash of Winifred, Sarah, and Mary adjusting to the modern age. They shouldn't be fooled by the same tricks again, and the world isn't drastically different today. Instead, the sequel returning to the darkness of the original's first draft can improve upon its villains.

Disney has gone dark in the past, with Pirates of the Caribbean’s sequels boasting an unexpected level of violence that made the villains particularly intimidating. Hocus Pocus' first draft always contained zombie Billy the Butcher (Doug Jones) losing his head, yet these morbid elements were undermined by entertaining but incredibly silly scenes such as the sisters mistaking a man in a devil costume for their master. Garris' first draft featuring younger protagonists would have instantly made the witches seem more dangerous, targeting small children less able to defend themselves. Hocus Pocus 2 should balance its humor with scares. The Sanderson sisters are out for revenge, meaning they should be more despicable than in the original. They delighted in their first resurrection in Salem - where Hocus Pocus was partly filmed - never considering they could be bested by children. Surely, they won't display the same attitude so many years later.

The Sanderson sisters shouldn't lose their macabre sense of humor but rather combine it with their vengeance to terrify a new generation of children. The witches were strangely likable for their musings on modern life and colorful personalities but being too relatable hinders their villainy. Hocus Pocus 2 can remind the world of the sisters' deadliness by honoring the scary first draft Garris intended to film.

Next: Hocus Pocus 2: How The Sanderson Witches Can Return



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