The sisters return to Salem and use the spell book to set fire to the reverend's home and thus is born the Sanderson Sister Witches of Salem.
Now we're in present day Salem at Samuel Skelton High School where we meet our young protagonists. (Fun fact: Samuel Skelton was the first pastor of the First Church of Salem, the original Puritan church in North America. I know this because I looked it up on Wikipedia). Becca (Whitney Peak) is turning sixteen today (which so happens to be Halloween) and she's planning on having a slumber party with her best friend, Izzy (Belissa Escobedo), where they will watch scary movies and dabble in some witchcraft. This has been Becca's birthday tradition for a long time.
Cassie tells Becca happy birthday and asks what her plans are which Becca thinks is weird because she knows Cassie knows what she does every year. Izzy takes this to mean that Cassie is hoping that Becca will invite her so when Becca is about to do just that, Mike starts talking about the Halloween party Cassie is throwing for the whole class. My question is, if she wanted to be invited to her friend's birthday which she knows is on Halloween, then why is she throwing a Halloween party? Maybe I'm just reading too much into this.
After school, Becca and Izzy go to the Salem Scare Fest where they come across Cassie's dad, who happens to be the mayor. There's a reelection coming up and he's handing out fliers and we see a billboard with him, his wife (who we never meet in the film), and Cassie on it and the tag line reads, "Traske...Making Salem Better than Ever." That is a terrible tagline. Also, is that supposed to be a dig at MAGA? I mean, they are pretty similar! I was getting Buster Bluth vibes from Mayor Traske, then realized that was because he's played by Tony Hale. We also get a quick mention that Cassie's family line dates back to the witch trials and that the reverend who we met at the very beginning of the movie (also played by Tony Hale) was Reverend Traske and he is an ancestor of Cassie and her family. As you can imagine, this will play a pivotal role later on.
Mayor Traske is super excited because Sandy's Candy Cauldron is being set up at the festival and he's looking forward to the caramel apples. This is pretty much his only plot point (aside from coming across a few witches), and yeah, it's pretty stupid. They will show some of the caramel apples and they do look pretty amazing with their crushed peanuts and chocolate drizzle, so I can understand why he's looking forward to them!
Mr. Traske gives the girls some campaign posters to pass out when they go to the Olde Salem Magic Shoppe, which is Becca's favorite shop as it is mentioned she goes there pretty much every week and the owner calls her his favorite customer. I feel like these so-called "magic" shops only exist in movies and TV shows. Wasn't there one in the town of Mystic Falls where The Vampire Diaries was set? Also, there was one on Buffy the Vampire Slayer around the time Willow was dabbling in witchcraft. And wasn't Giles the owner of it? This was after they graduated high school so he wasn't the librarian anymore. Oh my God, what was the name of that store? Half of you are probably screaming the name at me and the other half are probably wondering what the hell I'm talking about. Okay, I looked it up and it was called The Magic Box. Of course it was. I can't believe I couldn't remember that. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that I've never seen a shop like this in real life; they're only in TV shows where the supernatural run abundant. Of course, it does make sense for Salem to have a novelty store like this since their history is seeped in witch lore.
The owner calls himself Gilbert the Great and he's telling the story of the Sanderson sisters to the patrons (I guess they have story time at this store?). This is basically just a rehash of what happened in the first movie. Thanks, movie, I appreciate that, but I just read my review of the first movie to remind me what happened. Gilbert mention that the Sanderson sisters were the most powerful coven to ever live thanks to Winnie's Book of Spells. Not to nitpick or anything, but as far as I'm concerned, this is the only coven they have some kind of proof that existed, so of course they're gonna the most powerful. Again, I'm probably reading too much into this. When he mentions the book, we see the actual book is displayed in a glass case with straps around it like it's in a straight jacket. Someone in the audience comments they really don't want people taking the book and Gilbert replies all that is to keep the book from from escaping. He continues to tell them that twenty-nine years ago someone saw three figures flying across the moon. The same patron who commented about the book (I guess they wanted to give this guy all the lines), says, "Sounds like someone had a little too much candy." This was definitely a nod to the first movie because it's what Dani's mother says to her when Dani tells her the witches are back from the dead and the cat she's holding can talk. I remember thinking it was a weird reply because eating a lot of candy isn't going to make you delusional; it's just going go give you a stomachache. They're acting like eating too much candy is the equivalent of having too much to drink. No, it's not.
Gilbert reveals, with a flourish, the black flame candle that was lit back in 1993, the very same one that brought back the Sanderson sisters. It's all melted and the same guy who got the previous lines, once again gets another line by thinking this means the witches have been walking around for the past twenty-nine years. Gilbert tells him, "The candle's magic only brings them back for one night. They disappear at sunrise. Okay? Can I just finish this?" I absolutely love his exasperation and I would probably be getting exasperated with this bozo who keeps interrupting and asking questions.
Finally, someone else gets a line besides that annoying guy and a kid points out if the candle's melted, then no one can light it and the witches can't return. Gilbert agrees with this assessment, unless, of course, there is another black flame candle to light. Gee, I wonder if one will make an appearance?
Becca plans on buying a crystal, but Gilbert tells her she should get more than that since it's her birthday. He tells her he has a gift for her and presents her with a candle that looks like a big melted goop of wax. Not very attractive at all. At least he gave it to her for free as a birthday present, because I certainly wouldn't pay for that thing. He tells her, "Legend has it, it's on the sixteenth birthday that a witch gets her powers." Hmm, could this be foreshadowing? He also gives her Angelica leaves which you burn to lift curses. (Could this be more foreshadowing?) Apparently, these are free for everybody in the store. What kind of shop is this guy running? You're not going to make any money if you're giving out everything for free.
Becca and Izzy ride their bikes to the Salem Historical District which was founded in 1626. This, incidentally, is the exact same village where the Sanderson sisters grew up and it's quite a feat these houses are still standing so many centuries later. The girls head to what is the Forbidden Wood (I don't think it has a name in the twenty-first century) and light the candle. Now you could not pay me to go into the woods at night in October (on Halloween, no less). Oh, hell no. I'm honestly surprised their parents let them do this, but since the only parent we meet is Cassie's dad, maybe they aren't even aware of this.
Yep, the witches are back. Winifred, Mary, and Sarah (Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker) start singing a song called "The witches are back" set to the tune of Elton John's "The Bitch is Back". Becca and Izzy realize all the ingredients to bring back the witches (black flame candle lit by a virgin on Halloween) are the reason the Sanderson sisters have appeared before then.
The girls start to run and the witches are still performing. Becca asks, "Who are the performing for?" and Sarah suddenly pops up face to face with them and exclaims, "You!" That would freak me out! This won't be the last time one of the sisters pop up seemingly out of nowhere in front of the girls.
Soon, all the sisters are surrounding the girls and without missing a beat, Winnie calls for "Boooooook!" and while we see the book struggling to get free, we see it cannot escape.
The witches remember being tricked by teenagers last time (well, technically, they were tricked by two teens and one eight-year-old) and this time, they have decided, if any cross their path, they will kill them. It absolutely makes no sense they know the word "teenager" because it most definitely did not exist in the seventeenth century. In face, the word "teenager" wasn't coined until the twenieth century, in the forties. There's no way the Sanderson sisters would have that word in their vocabulary. I'm just going to attribute them knowing about it when they were around in 1993.
The girls tell them they're actually forty and they look so youthful because they "eat young souls all the time" and they brought the witches back because they're their idols and want to be just like them. Of course, flattering these three witches (especially Winnie) is a great way to distract them as they absolutely love it. Winnie tells them, "Idols? My favorite word. Thou dost worship us? Sayeth more." It cracked me up when Sarah says,"Get in line, get in line."
Izzy tells them they don't have to brew potions anymore, that they can just buy them and tells them about lotions and serums you can buy at the store that already have the children's souls mixed in. When Sarah asks, "No more luring children to their demise?", she looks absolutely devastated; it is hilarious. Mary, on the other hand, seems to think this is more convenient. She tells the girls, "Oh, that's a great time hack. Thank you kindly." Sarah mutters, "I delighted in the luring. 'Twas my only job." This is such a messed-up thing to say, but it's so funny.
The girls take them to Wal-Greens and at this point, I'm not really sure what their plan is. I get that they're trying to fool the witches so they don't harm anyone and they can get what they need at this store, but they really don't have a plan of how to escape. There is a funny joke where the witches gasp as they watch the sliding doors part for the two girls. Sarah says, "The gates parted for her. She must be very powerful." I am surprised that this joke wasn't used in the first movie, but I guess they never went anywhere with sliding doors.
While the witches are preoccupied drinking the lotions and hand creams (hilarious! Mary even eats a face mask at one point), Becca tells Izzy they need to get salt because it will protect them against dark magic. When the witches get distracted, Izzy runs to find some salt. When the sisters see themselves in an unflattering mirror, they freak out because they're all distorted. Winnie stops an employee and demands to know "how many childrens' souls are in those potions?" The poor guy is freaked out, understandably, and tells them "zero". The witches start chasing Becca who finds Izzy who has the salt and they are able to escape from the witches' zaps.
The witches appear at that moment. They are happy to be back in their old home (wasn't their old home a museum in the first movie? I wonder how it became a kitschy niche shop?), but realizes it's not the same. Sarah wants to know where the cobwebs and rat tails are. Mary says, "It no longer smells like death. Now, it smells like..." As she's trying to determine what the scent is, Gilbert tells her it's "Clean linen" and that they have a Glade plug-in for that.
Winnie is ecstatic to see her book that she doesn't even blink twice when Gilbert tells them he's their biggest fan. Mary sniffs out the "two forty-year-old teenagers" and asks Winnie what she should do with them. Winnie gives Sarah the book and says, "Here, hold my book. And don't drop it like you just did." This is hilarious because when Winnie conjured the book to come to her, it dropped before it reached her hand and Sarah had nothing to do with it falling. She's so mean to her sisters! I have to wonder if it was supposed to fall or if it was an accident and Bette Midler just ad-libbed that line.
Winnie tells Mary to throw the two girls in the dungeon and she reveals a secret door in the floor. After they are quite literally tossed into the dungeon, the girls try running up the stairs, but they dissipate into thin air. They overhear Gilbert tell the witches that he's been trying to bring them back ever since he saw them "that night" and that it wasn't a great Halloween for him because sone boys stole his candy. Now we all know he's referring to the two '90s bullies who were giving Max a hard time in the first movie. Gilbert tells the sisters he saw them riding on their broomsticks...or other cleaning supplies.....and chased them to the cemetery where he saw them "die." He found Book who was awake and showed him how to make another candle. I'm sorry, this book is just going to let some random kid make another black flame candle? Of course, now that I think about it, he probably didn't create the candle until much later because if he had made it as a child, he would have been able to light the candle and bring them back. So basically he had this book for the past twenty-nine years and was waiting for the perfect time to bring back the witches? I'm so confused. I'm not really sure why he wanted to bring them back. Yeah, he says he idolizes them and that they were misunderstood, but we don't really get a good, solid reason why he wants to bring them back. Only that we want a sequel!
The campaign posters that Becca and Izzy were handing out earlier catches the eye of Winnie and she recognizes the name Traske and realizes he must be a descendant of the Reverend. She wants herself and her sisters to be the most powerful witches so nothing can stop them: not teenagers (heh), not Traske, not the sun. She decides they will perform the Magicae Maxima. Mary reminds her she promised to never do that spell and Winnie's excuse to ignore it is, "That was 300 years ago. That promised has expired." She tries to open Book to the page of the desired spell, but Book keeps slamming shut. She finally zaps the book and it opens up to the Power Spell. There is a huge BEWARE warning that begins with, "For it is most dangerous..." She says they "have no time for warnings." She reads the directions and ingredients they will need. The incantation needs to be recited seven times in "a most sacred place." Winnie reads they will need "the head of a lover, witch's butter, juice of an aralia berry, one petrified spider, and one drop of thy's enemy blood." That is quite the list! I love how it pretty much implies you'll have to commit murder with the first "ingredient." Luckily, they won't have to because Winnie says they'll just dig up her old lover, Billy Butcherson. Not sure what witch's butter is and have never heard of an aralia berry. I guess it grows mostly in the eastern U.S. which explains why I'm not familiar with it.
Mary says with glee, "Don't you love it when the recipe requires blood?" This is a nice nod to the beginning of the movie, when, as a child, she excitedly tells Winnie they made the "jell-o" with goat's blood. Winnie asks Gilbert if he has the Sanderson hourglass. He makes a big show of thinking, then tells them he doesn't have it. Mary tells him that's not a problem and since he doesn't have it, "We'll just have to kill thee." I laughed when he said, "Oh, you said "hourglass" with an "h". Yes, that I do have, actually. I think I misheard you when you said it before."
At that moment, his black cat, Cobweb, jumps up and all the witches thinks it's Thackery Binx and are about to kill it. This doesn't make any sense because wouldn't they remember the spell they cast on Thackery wouldn't let him die? We saw that cat get ran over by a bus and he was still fine. The only reason he did die was because the curse was broken. The cat is able to run away when Gilbert distracts them by showing them the hourglass. Winnie creates a spell on the hourglass and calls it a binding contact. She tells Gilbert, "You shall gather all the ingredients and bring them to the Forbidden Wood and we shall sniff out the blood of our enemy. If you fail, you forfeit your life with the last grain of this sand."
Izzy's line to Becca, "Don't freak out, but the idea of a vengeful maniac obsessed with getting revenge on Salem becoming an invincible, all powerful, vengeful maniac obsessed with getting revenge on Salem sounds very bad for Salem!" is very funny, but doesn't make sense for her to say this to Becca because I think she would realize this. It feels like she's mostly saying this for the viewers.
The girls call Cassie to warn her, but the witches have also hexed their phones so Cassie can't hear or see them. They don't know what to do, but then Izzy remembers the Angelica leaves that "lift curses" and they use that so the stairs appear again, and what do you know, it works!
The witches go to the Scare Fest to find the mayor and we see the Roombas following them, like little obedient dogs. They see people bobbing for apples and this delights them to no end because they think they are being drowned. I can understand why they would think that because there's some guy holding the heads of the two people who are bobbing. I don't understand why you would need to have somebody holding your head while you're bobbing for apples; this makes no sense to me. I haver only bobbed for apples once, as a wee child, and I just remember it's impossible to grasp an apple with just your mouth. One guy comes up with an apple and Winnie says, "He has an apple in his mouth. Perhaps they're gonna roast him on a spit." Oh, man, that was so funny. The writers must have had so much fun with this movie.
Once the girls escape, Becca calls Mr. Traske to tell him his daughter is throwing a party at his house and he freaks out and leaves. I guess the idea was just to get him away from the Scare Fest since she knew the witches would be looking for him there. They try to get the book to keep it out of the witches' hands, but it refuses to go with them. They decide they need to get to the Traske house before the witches do.
Winnie, Mary and Sarah come across a Sanderson sister costume contest with drag queens and I nearly spit out my drink with the host tells them, "Looking good, fellas. Very authentic." When asked what their stage name is, Winnie says they call themselves, "The Originals." When the winning group is about to be announced, Winnie tells her sisters to look surprised, but another group who calls themselves The Sandersonettes, ends up winning. Sarah is bouncing around, all happy thinking she won, and exclaiming, "We won! We won!" Winnie is pissed and takes the trophy and the audience starts booing. Winnie tells the audience, "People of Salem, we gave come for the blood of thy Mayor." One of the drag queens gets excited ad thinks they're "doing a bit."
At another house, we see a young kid in his bedroom and Mary pop up right outside his window. He screams, then Mary screams. Oh my God, that would care the sh*t out of me!
Becca and Izzy get to Cassie's house who's not happy with them for ratting her out. When they ask her where her dad is, she tells the he went back to the festival to get his caramel apple. Their plan certainly worked like a charm. (That was sarcasm, in case you couldn't tell).
They find Becca "hiding" in the garage (and when I say "hiding", I mean, she's just standing in plain sight), but before they can kill her, she quickly tells them she has the only Aralia berry juice left in Salem and shows them a water bottle that's only about a quarter full. She tells them to let her go or she will pour it out. While the witches are distracted, her friends pop out and pour salt in a big circle around them so they can't harm anyone with their magic.
I just love how ditzy and dumb Sarah is. With the three girls standing right there, she tells her sisters, "Let us bewitch them with song and lure the into setting us free." Winnie snaps at her, "Next time, do not tell people we wish to bewitch that we are about to bewitch them!" Bwah!
While girls are outside talking, Mr. Traske comes home and opens the garage door. He sees the Sanderson sisters and assumes they were there for Cassie's party and is wondering why "the Gothic Golden Girls" are in his garage. The girls just leave the witches hanging out in the garage with the door open and the Roombas come by and start cleaning up the salt. I will say this was a clever idea they (the writers) came up with. I laughed when Mary tells Winnie to look and Winnie says, "I cannot. My eyes have misted over with the tragic tears of a lifetime of failure." I just love how dramatic she is.
The witches grab Cassie since they know she is a Traske, so she will work just as well as her father. As they fly away, Becca and Izzy chase after her and some kind of blue lightning is zapping from Becca's hand; something that has never happened before. But there's no time to worry about that now because she needs to help her friend.
On his quest to find all the ingredients, Gilbert first digs up Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones). When Billy is told the Sanderson sisters are back, he wants nothing to do with whatever's going on and starts to go back to his grave. Gilbert lies to him and tells him he's going to kill the sisters for good and needs Billy's help to collect the items. Billy wants to clear the air because everyone thinks he was Winnie's lover, but turns out he just shared one kiss with her (the one we heard about at the beginning of the movie). Gilbert tells him if he helps him get everything on the list, he will tell everyone the truth and Billy agrees to this. I mean, really, do people in twenty-first century Salem really care that much? Once he has gathered most of the stuff, he comes back to the Magic Shoppe to see the hourglass is almost up and tries to cheat the system by turning it, but Winnie has bewitched it so it will remain the same no matter which way he turns it. Billy catches him and realizes that Gilbert has been cursed and accuses him of helping the Sanderson sisters. Gilbert manages to take his head and goes to the graveyard to meet the sisters now that he has all the ingredients for the spell.
Winnie calls for the book which comes flying to her. She uses her sharp fingernail to scrape Cassie's neck to get the blood of her enemy. Ouch! That looked so painful. I cringed watching that. Mary even comments, "Ooh, that's gotta hurt." I'm surprised Cassie didn't have more of a reaction.
Winnie and her sisters start reciting the incantation and Becca's hands start glowing again. Izzy comes with the conclusion that she must be a witch because it's her 16th birthday. Sure, makes sense to me. Witches exist in this universe. I guess it's only three hundred years the town of Salem has a witch. She asks Becca if she thinks she can use her magic to stop the witches and save Cassie and Becca replies, "I guess we're gonna find out." She interrupts the sisters' chant while Izzy unties Cassie and helps her escape. (Oh yeah, the witches have tossed Gilbert aside so he's somewhere in the woods right now). Becca starts a zap fight with the sisters only to realize she's severely outmatched. Winnie tells her she's against "the most powerful coven in history" and is about to zap Becca when Cassie throws a pinecone at the witches and tells them that she (Becca) has her own coven.
Becca says, "You don't have to do this spell. I know it may not feel like it, but you have a choice." Winnie thinks she is talking to her, but she is saying this to the book who has its own opinions. Becca holds out her hands the book flies to her and she runs off with it. She reunites with her friends and asks Book if there's anything she can do. The book flips open to the warning page of the Power Spell where it warns the user of the spell if they want to claim all the power, "a price must be paid. What is valued most dearly, thou shall have to trade."
The witches come flying overhead and zaps them and Becca protects herself and her friends with an invisible force shield, but the sisters are too powerful and she can't hold them off much longer. Izzy remembers reading "the power's meant to be shared" from the book and tells Becca to give her hand. The three girls clasp hands with each other and hold up their free hand to keep up the invisible shield. It's a little awkward. I feel like this would be much easier if they could hold up both hands, but they have to hold hands for the power to work.
The witches are unable to obtain the book and Winnie tells the girls she does not need a book to perform her spell and she and her sisters continue to go on reciting the incantation. (I wonder if they have to start over or if the incantations they already recited count as the seven they need to recite). Becca tells her friends they need to warn them about the warning. Unfortunately, they're too late. They hear Winnie putting the final touches on the spell where she says, "Underneath this full moon light, I sacrifice my love tonight." Now that they're all-powerful, the flame on the candle has got out and they are amazed they are still alive. The sisters are celebrating and laughing and zapping their witchy powers around. This is when Becca tells Winnie the Power Spells takes what she values most and Sarah's and Mary's hands and arms start turning into glitter dust. They seem to accept their fates as Mary tells Winnie to never forget them and adds, "I know I was your favorite" and makes a "Shhh" gesture even though Sarah is literally right there next to her. Hilarious. Winnie is devastated when her sisters evaporate into thin air and fondly remembers them as her "passionate partners in unholy mischief."
Here, is where we get a sudden character change from Winnie. She asks Becca for her help, tearfully, almost begging. The Winnie we know would never this. She would have just killed the girls and took the book. But here, after Becca has found a spell for reuniting and will be able to send Winnie to be with her sisters, Winnie is thanking her and telling the three friends how lucky they are to have each other. This brings it back to the beginning when the witch Winnie and her sisters meet as young girls tell them the same thing. I don't know, I just don't like how they softened Winnie's character, but I guess they needed a quick way to end her storyline.
The movie ends with the girls walking home and they start doing the Sanderson sister shuffle and they start giggling and exclaiming, "What are we doing?" The way they do it just feels so forced and awkward, it doesn't come naturally like when the actual Sanderson sisters do it. Also, it doesn't make sense Cassie would know it because she wasn't in the Wal-Greens where Becca and Izzy saw them doing it.
I can see Disney + making a show about these three girls and their witchy powers. Now if they made a series about the Sanderson sisters as young girls in 1600s Salem, I would be way more likely to watch that.
Happy Halloween, everybody!