Discovering an old Halloween classic on the big screen

Annika Schmidt 

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Going to the movies is one of my favorite things ever. This is probably a sad statement for a 21-year-old college student, but it’s true. There is nothing that excites me more than crowding into a dark room to enjoy some overpriced snacks and a new feature on a screen that is literally the size of a whole wall.   

     After months of watching movies at home, quarantined with my family, I can appreciate everything offered by the movie theater even more. There’s nothing like side conversations, frequent pausing for snack breaks or — the absolute worst — someone checking their phone next to you every few minutes to distract from a film-watching experience.   

     Luckily, everything from cell phones to loud chewing is generally unacceptable in a movie theater and puts you at risk of being reprimanded by some bold soul in the back row. (Whether this is me, I will neither confirm nor deny.) 

     After seven months of having my theater joys deprived of me, I decided it was time to head back to the big screen, regardless of COVID-19. 

Kimball’s Peak Theater, located downtown.
Photo by Zach Robbins.

     Of course, during the global pandemic chaos, the production of many new films has been put on hold, so my viewing options were mostly overridden with Halloween classics as we near the end of the month. But there’s nothing like watching a new movie in theaters, so I chose one I’ve never seen before. 

     Despite being almost 30 years old, “Hocus Pocus” is still getting an overwhelming amount of hype on social media. They even just announced a sequel — and now I know why.  

     Masked, socially distanced and an obligatory box of chocolate covered raisins in hand, I was completely absorbed in 96 minutes of family-friendly Halloween fun. 

     The entire movie is an entertaining series of spooky, magical events revolving around a rivalry between a trio of eclectic, 300-year-old witches with an avidity for children; a bland, high school-age male protagonist, Max Dennison, and an immortal cat. On Halloween night, Max, his little sister and his love interest (an admittedly underwhelming bunch) grapple with the witches in a sequence of struggles to survive. 

     The performance by the three actors who portrayed the witches was outstanding; they carried the film. Each actor nailed the hyper-characterized villain role, navigating a modern society in hunting down children in order to rejuvenate their looks and prolong their lives. The clever humor and dialogue throughout the film truly made this movie entertaining for all ages.    

     “Hocus Pocus” also won’t let you forget that it is set in the ’90s, complete with old-school styles, cliche school bullies, subpar effects and a striking lack of diversity. 

     Overall, this film was highly enjoyable for someone who doesn’t mind a little cliche, a lot of silliness and general predictability. For first time viewers, I would try to not focus on the immediate and concerning absence of adult intervention in this plot of “kids vs. evil” or the ethics of “child-hungry” villains.   

     Is Hocus Pocus on Disney+? Yes. Could I have watched it at home in my pajamas? Yes. But ultimately, the whole movie theater experience was the perfect distraction from classes and work. There were no unnecessary interruptions and the size of the projector screen really accentuated the subpar 1990s CGI, which made it all more entertaining. 

     If you feel more comfortable avoiding public spaces right now, I encourage you to check out “Hocus Pocus” on Disney+, or rent it on other platforms like Amazon Prime Video, iTunes and YouTube. You might as well have some fun watching at home on Halloween in lieu of a party; try turning your viewing experience into a drinking game by taking a shot every time this kids’ movie mentions someone’s virginity. But beware, you might regret it.