'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' review: Witch or half-witch prepare to be bewitched
Netflix's upcoming thriller 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' may be a forerunner of an Archie Comics adaption of a twisted tale done right
It's that time of the year where you don't run out of options for new horror shows, yet don't quite know what to pick. Hail Satan! The 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' arrives October 26 on Netflix to, perhaps, top your what-to-watch list this spooky season.
A franchise of Archie Comics, when the 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' was announced to be given a dark twist, 'Riverdale' skeptics chimed in to alert how the show ruined the memories of our beloved Archie Comics characters including the protagonists, Jughead and the entire gang. The CW show, however, became a love or hate series managing to gather a massive fan base all over the world. But with Sabrina, the 'Chilling Adventures' fit right at the title and it feels like an original masterpiece, even though it is entirely disengaged from the comedic tone of the Archie Comics and the 1996 sitcom 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch.'
The familiarity of Sabrina Spellman breeds excitement, so, no wonder the series signed in without the word 'witch' in the title, only to make it more enigmatic. I watched all the upcoming ten episodes of the show with a pre-conceived idea of the 15-year-old Greendale resident battling her identity as a half-witch.
Surprisingly, the introductory narration was kept short and crisp as the story's focus moved to introducing the characters the teenage witch loved. I realized then that her internal conflicts would be reflected with the people she chose around her and I was right, her half-witch, half-mortal identity is neatly woven into all the characters we get to meet.
Sabrina's human friends include Rosalind Walker, a strong vocal character who is a minister's daughter; Susie Putnam, a victim of bullying because of her non-binary gender identity; and Harvey Kinkle, Sabrina’s boyfriend who belongs to a family of witch hunters and is forced into the coal-mining profession by his father. Sabrina's witch family includes her aunts Hilda and Zelda Spellman, who raised the young girl to follow the footsteps of the Dark Lord.
While Hilda is the kind and cool aunt, who is quite liberal towards the teenage witch, Zelda is strict, pragmatic and utterly devoted to Satan. Thank god for Ambrose, her cousin from England, who is under house arrest at the Spellman Mortuary, Sabrina gets the disciplined, yet notorious side out of her.
While the theme song of the series featuring eerie music and credit rolls in vampire font with crows crowing and thunder crashing in the backdrop is enough to cause chills down the spine, you can be assured that fear won't materialize as much as it will in episode 5. With explicit gore and suspense involuntary enabling you to hold your breath, the 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,' remains true to its title.
However, as a mid-20s something watching the show, I cannot comprehend the targeted audience of the show, as at times it feels like a typical teen drama featuring high school 'Mean Girls' in the form of the trio 'The Weird Sisters,' although, at the same time it features sexual content and gore alongside. One thing is for sure; it is not a show you can binge watch with your family, but, we never outgrow our love for a teen-centric story at heart with an adult mind, and that's what 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' is.
The upcoming thriller made by 'Riverdale' showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, has all the fantastical elements needed for a dark tale including several demons, trolls, potions, screams, deaths, high school drama, two-worlds, and a good-looking cast. But there are so many real-world problems that the show aims to tackle, starting right from launching an all-women's club that questions banned books, to rebelling against the oppressive control of men.
Sabrina also questions her family's faith in the Dark Lord and objects to barbaric rituals. Bullying as called to be "harrowing" is also majorly addressed by showcasing the consequences. Episodes down the line, we meet a rather cute baby character, Quentin, who makes you ooze love and empathy.
When it comes to relationships, Sabrina and Harvey will make you sigh "aww" but because I am one of those who rolls eyes when romance gets a bit too intense, I actually did not sigh "aww." I was just wondering how Sabrina found her true love in Harvey, at 16, risking it all for him, and here I am, in my mid-life crisis hugging a pillow while watching the show. But sad story aside, Sabrina's option for two boyfriends was baffling indeed.
'Madmen' star Kiernan Shipka who plays Sabrina has effortlessly played the role of a teenage witch bewitching the audience with a Red Riding Hood meets Hermione Granger vibe. Ross Lynch, surprisingly, renders Harvey to have a character of his own and not be overshadowed by his half-witch girlfriend. The rest of the squad also stand out, a special mention to Tati Gabrielle, who plays Prudence, leader of 'the Weird Sisters,' as she develops her character like a boss.
'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,' and a glass of pumpkin juice go together and thank Satan, Sabrina was spared from being the antagonist in 'Riverdale,' as it was originally planned by the showrunners. Greendale is a perfect setting for a universe that features terrifying characters and magic, perhaps, much more fathomable than the cult situation in 'Riverdale.'
Mark October 26 as the day you cancel all your plans and binge-watch the latest Netflix show, because I have a hunch this may not only be the much-awaited Halloween watch, but also one of the best supernatural dramas in Netflix history.