An angry warlock has stolen a magic spell book and plans to turn everyone into whatever costume they’re wearing at midnight on Halloween. It’s a race against time to get the book back and save the humans from permanent horror.
So far, it’s an absolute blast watching through the Halloweentown series of films for the first time ever. Just this past week I watched the original film and was greatly impressed by how much heart and charm the film carried. It puts you right in the Halloween spirit and makes you want to cozy up by a fire and just be reminded of your childhood.
Because that movie was so successful and beloved by so many kids and families all around the world, a sequel was inevitable. But most people worry about sequels because they say that they’re never as good as the original, and they usually exist just to make some more money for the studio. Surprisingly enough though, Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge is not only a little bit better than the first, it’s yet another heartwarming and delightfully fun entry in the franchise.
One of the reasons why this sequel is an improvement on the predecessor is that it actually has some genuine stakes this time. Because the majority of the film focuses on our lead protagonist Marnie (Kimberly J. Brown) attempting to get back to the real world before it’s too late, you feel like there are real consequences if the main characters fail to break the evil Grey Spell that Kalabar’s son uses.
Of course, this is a Disney Channel original movie and so there won’t be anything seriously scary, and therefore, in the back of your head, you know for sure that the film is going to go a certain direction. But that doesn’t change the fact that the film is still a blast to watch from start to finish.
It was also nice to see a large portion of the original film’s cast return and deliver performances that were even stronger this time around. In particular, Kimberly J. Brown is marvelous as Marnie. She feels a connection to Halloweentown and wants to do her best to restore the town to its former glory due to the effects of Kalabar’s son’s magic spells. Marnie also wants to protect her grandma Aggie (Debbie Reynolds) and mother Gwen (Judith Hoag) from danger.
She also wants to be trained further so she can harness her full witch abilities. Watching the journey that she goes on here was equal parts charming and delightful. I can’t wait to see what the two additional sequels do with her character.
But not to be overshadowed here is the aforementioned Debbie Reynolds who always feels calm and assured in every scene. She feels like the grandma that everybody in the world would want. She’s kind, patient, understanding, and wants to make sure that her grandchildren are taken care of. Her performance here is extremely uplifting.
If you really boil it down, Kalabar’s Revenge is an incredibly goofy movie that feels almost like a slapstick in certain scenes. Yes, it’s even campier than the original. Certain scenes and certain lines of dialogue are definitely weak and it feels a little bit too kid-friendly at times, but none of this changes the fact that Kalabar’s Revenge is a great example of how to make a children’s film sequel better than its predecessor.
Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge is a sequel that improves upon the original thanks to its wonderfully charming performances and delightfully creepy atmosphere.
Overall Grade: A-
MPAA Rating: TV-PG
Directed by: Mary Lambert
Distributed by: Disney Channel
Release Date: October 12, 2001
Running Time: 80 minutes