Rating 4/5 – It took me a while to decide how exactly I felt about the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. This show did not go where I thought it would. This show is dark. I’m old enough to remember when she had the comic. While it was published by Archie Comics it still felt more like a Harvey comic in tone. There was a brief cartoon short but most people remember the Melissa Joan Hart show that ran for seven seasons. Well, take that comedy show and all its light-hearted fluff and dumb jokes then take that twisted version of Archie the CW calls Riverdale, put it in a blender and add blood. That’s the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina in a nutshell.
Be aware that every single trope from the comics, cartoons, TV show and books are all here, except creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa decided to channel his inner John Carpenter and takes the premise to horror movie heights. Salem the cat is there but his role isn’t to be the comedy relief. He’s not the witch who tried to take over the world. He’s a goblin and Sabrina’s protector. Cousin Ambrose is a vital side character who is bound to the Spellman house. Sabrina has best friends, a boyfriend she doesn’t want to give up and usual teenager problems. Only she had to also deal with teenage witch problems like Satan being after her ass. Fun stuff.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Kiernan Shipka
Kiernan Shipka did not just appear out of thin air before staring in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. She was in Mad Men, voiced Jinora in Legend of Korra and has popped up in various TV shows. The premise is the same; Sabrina Spellman is a half-witch/half-mortal who is about to turn 16. Her family is preparing her to take her place in the local coven. The conflict is Sabrina is not sure if she really wants to. In all the other versions Sabrina uses magic to secretly help her friends. The Netflix show centers on Sabrina trying to find her own place in the world of mortals and witches.
She does use magic, only it’s horror movie magic. When things go wrong they go horror movie wrong. At first, it looks like the premise will be her refusal to fully join in with the coven. Then the show takes a sudden left turn. It feels like the show will be about Sabrina trying to help her mortal friends and boyfriend. Then the show turns off the road into the dark woods and things go from dark to bloody midnight. Kiernan Shipka channels Melissa Joan Heart doe-eyed sweetness throughout the show. Sabrina wants to do the right thing and she’s in love with her boyfriend. When the end comes it comes with a twist and it’s totally earned. Stay with this girl throughout the show, it doesn’t go the way you think it will go.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Dark Side
When I said this show as dark I meant dark. There’s human sacrifice, ghosts, cannibalism, goat-headed demons, zombies, goblins and ritual celebrations. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina does not shy away from horror. They took the basic themes of the live-action comedy and gave them a Clive Barker twist. The high school feels like high school. The romantic elements do have a bit of WB stink on them. Don’t let that fool you, this is Netflix so they get to have fun with it.
Sabrina’s attempts to help her friends and boyfriend has some pretty horrific results. Hiding behind the scenes is a minion of Satan whose only goal is to bring Sabrina to him by any means necessary. You know that old rom-com trope of lies leading to misunderstanding and break-up? In the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the trope is done exactly like a Meg Ryan movie but put through a blender of blood. During the whole thing, the lead actress stays sweet and likable. Sabrina is the girl-next-door who could fuck you up royally.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Witch Sisters & Triplets
Big props have to go to Miranda Otto and Tati Gabrielle. Matriarchy plays a big role in this show, it’s a sub-theme. These actors play the matriarch of their respective families like bosses. Tati Gabrielle is the boss of the orphans, three witches who are always together. (Think the twins from the Shining or the Cuckoos from X-Men.) Tati Gabriella is also the mean-girl of the show. She not “evil” per-say. They are witches after all, but she manages her mean-girl role without descending into Draco Malfoy territory.
Miranda Otto plays Zelda Spellman one of the two aunts who is trying to hold her family together. She’s the only who takes everything seriously and see the big picture. She’s the head of the household who clashes with Sabrina at every turn. Otto does an excellent job bringing a dignity and sense of “been there/done that” to the role. You believe she’s an experienced witch with human weaknesses. Both of these ladies make the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina that much better for being part of it.
This was a far better show then I thought it would be. It was fun, weird, crazy and did not shirk from the premise it set-up. I see there are plans for the second season in 2019 and I can’t wait to see where this goes. As a Halloween show, it doesn’t miss the mark. The stories were fun, the characters engaging making this Netflix show very bingeable. It’s both a good little horror story with tons of creepy elements as well as great Halloween fun. I look forward to more of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.