The Math Ain't Mathin'

The One Hocus Pocus Plot Point That’s Always Bothered Me

No witchy spell can make me forget this puzzling plot hole.

Emma Chao/Scary Mommy; Courtesy Walt Disney Pictures; Getty Images
Spooky Mommy

Halloween may still be a few weeks away, but honestly, there’s no wrong time of year to watch the 1993 cult classic Hocus Pocus. In fact, despite its spooky premise, the film hit theaters during the summer and just recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. That means you are fully within your right to rewatch this wickedly beloved hit for the millionth time, which is precisely what this writer just did. But while my viewing encompassed the same entertaining highlights as always (Winifred’s big musical moment, the sisters’ synchronized spells, Dani’s sick burns to both Max and the witches), I was reminded of the one Hocus Pocus plot point that’s always bothered me, even back when I first saw the film in theaters as a kid.

Now, keep in mind that this in no way undermines the undying love I feel for this movie. It has been a long-time favorite of mine. I rewatched it countless times, over and over again, throughout my entire childhood and beyond — a fact that both of my parents can fully attest to. Yet, like with so many other things in life, this masterpiece isn’t without its flaws.

One common complaint I’ve seen over the years centers around Thackery Binx and why he — as a cat with the magical ability to talk — never revealed to his parents what happened to him. And while that’s definitely a justifiable question, I believe there is one plot point that ranks even higher on the head-scratching chart, and it involves the parents of Salem.

Was the Town Hall dance really THAT popular?

As Dani explained to Max at the start of the film, he was responsible for taking her out trick-or-treating (whether he wanted to or not) because both of their parents were going to a big adults-only dance over at the Salem Town Hall. This fact was also reinforced later when Max, Dani, and Allison stopped by there to warn their parents of the witches’ return, which proved to be rather pointless since the Sanderson sisters proceeded to put a spell on all the adults in attendance mere minutes later. That allowed the sisters to then abduct all of the children in town without any parental interference.

While I understand all this was most likely done to keep the plot running smoothly, the thought always nagged at me that not every parent would have attended this Town Hall dance. For starters, was the dance really that popular for all adults? Weren’t there any moms and dads out there who would’ve much rather hung out at home and watched Halloween movies together? (No? Just me?) Are dances still cool for this age group? Because I have never been to an adult Halloween costume dance party in all of my years of adulting. (Wait, does this mean that I’m not cool?!?!) Either way, it’s hard to believe every single grown-up would sign up to do this.

Second, even if all the parents did want to go to this dance, that doesn’t mean they would’ve been able to. Surely there were kids in Salem who weren’t old enough yet to go trick-or-treating by themselves. Dani had her older brother Max to serve as a makeshift babysitter, but what about the kids who didn’t have older siblings? Wouldn’t their parents have needed to go with them, thereby making them absent for Winnie’s spell?

Who was answering all the doors?

It’s also worth noting that for the kids to go trick-or-treating successfully, there needed to be some adults in their houses to open the doors and give candy out. We saw that happen throughout the film, so who were these people? You’d think at least a few of them would’ve been parents to some of the kids Sarah lured back to their cabin, but maybe not.

Yes, I know this is a small plot hole in the grand scheme of things that many viewers most likely have overlooked. And yes, it helps drive the plot forward to have all the parents be occupied and out of the way for the witches to do their wicked deeds. But when you’ve watched this movie as much as I have, you can’t help but notice stuff like this and find yourself falling further and further down the rabbit hole of Hocus Pocus quandaries.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter why things happened the way they did. Therein lies the beauty of this film: Once you fall under its spell, it’s almost impossible to stop thinking about it.