Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Directed by Various Publishing House: Netflix Released: 10.26.18 Review by | October 15, 2018 at 4:30 PM
8
by Sherin Nicole and Philip Jean-Pierre
Grade: B

Basically: A witch’s brew of The Craft and Supernatural starring a Rosemary’s Baby who’s all grown up and totally Wicked.

Editor’s note: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a whole lot of show, so much so that it requires two of us to review it. Welcome to Sherin and Philip’s Dark Delight Emporium where we shall share all the wonders and WTFery of this new Netflix version of the original teenage witch.

Double, double, toil and trouble, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina brings a new generation of witches to fight the patriarchy and Satan (or to praise him—could go either way). From the twisted minds of the creators of Riverdale, we are re-introduced to Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka), originally created by George Gladir and Dan DeCarlo for Archie Comics. In this incarnation Sabrina is a semi-popular, not-having-it, high schooler, torn between the mortal and magical worlds. Humans we understand but The Church of Night, to which the Spellmans are generational members, is a world of dark power and satanic ritual that happens to be Sabrina’s birthright. So yeah, Brina’s Sweet Sixteen ain’t gonna feature any cotton candy, more like invitations written in blood.

Photo: Diyah Pera/Netflix

For us, as viewers, the occult side is much more interesting than the turmoil of high school life and super average boyfriends named Harvey (well played by Ross Lynch) but Sabrina wants it all—power and a normal life—something her family and the witching world cannot abide. And her human friends (Jaz Sinclair, Lachlan Watson) probably won’t be too into her dark side either. Then again they’ve got their own supernatural secrets to keep.

With the stage set for teenage drama, magical shenanigans, and the terror of Beelzebub in full satyr form, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has all you need for an enjoyable romp through the underworld and high-school…

NEEDLE SCRATCH: Not to be punny but “oh hell no” the first two episodes are so full of devil stuff it’s off-putting. It’s one thing to have Lucifer jamming away on his piano and quite another thing to be forced to watch a show from inside a circle of salt while sprinkling your screen with holy water intermittently. But, hey, if you need a deal on protective wards, we know a girl.

Photo: Diyah Pera/Netflix

RESUME: Frankly, in this show you can’t tell which is more dangerous, high school or the Dark Lord. Similar to its sister-show, Riverdale, the neo-retro visuals (it’s a thing) are the first thing you’ll notice. While obviously taking place in our modern era, the feel of the production harkens back to bygone times of studebakers, malt shops, and old-school-high-school wickedness which cement the show as a fun-watch (think The Devil Rides Out (1968) mashed up with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video).

Assisting Sabrina in bumping back against the night (or into it—could go either way) are her aunts Hilda (Lucy Davis) and Zelda (Miranda Otto). We say assist in the broadest sense possible. Hilda, the “good”, wants Sabrina to be happy, even if it means living in the human world and letting the girl run wild. Zelda, the “boss-chick”, wants what’s best for Sabrina and what is best is whatever the hell Zelda says it is. Zelda is so hellbent on making sure Sabrina fulfils her destiny, as a servant to The Church of Night, you’ll want to sneak into Spellman Manor and quietly stir that woman’s coffee with the cross [read: she needs Jesus].

sidebar: Where are Buffy, Sam, and Dean when you need them? Oh yeah? How do we get to this place called The CW? Just pass Riverdale, on Route 66…? Okay, thanks.

Photo: Diyah Pera/Netflix

The performances by both aunties are well done and wonderfully terrifying to watch—the death, the mayhem, the cannibalism. What? The two women represent the dual aspects of Sabrina’s nature and a glimpse into who she could turn out to be. However, the breakout role is our beloved Ambrose Spellman (Chance Perdomo), cousin, nephew, pansexual. We all have a favorite cousin who keeps us on the straight and narrow, Ambrose is that and more to our teen witch and every moment he is on screen is a delight. Perdomo delivers heart and humor wrapped in a bewitching candy-coated shell, that makes him the favorite of the series. And Ambrose is truly pansexual, written with all the nuance he deserves. His authenticity along with another character who appears to be transitioning from their assigned gender, and a third character with a developing disability, shows a legitimate awareness and effort to include often overlooked audiences.

Ooh, and the wonderful Master/Missy from Doctor Who, aka Michelle Gomez, is now Ms. Wardell and she’s about to make you hot for teacher. You don’t know whether to hug her or run screaming but it’s clear Sabrina couldn’t survive without her… But what is Ms. Wardell saving Sabrina for? Michelle Gomez is so sinfully sinister you won’t be bothered either way.

What is a high-school drama without rivals? In this case Sabrina’s nemesis arrives in the form of Prudence (Tati Gabrielle) a masterfully diabolical teenage witch who is the darkness to Sabrina’s light. As leader of The Weird Sisters, Prudence plans to do whatever it takes to avoid second place. Sadly for Sabrina, she means ANYTHING. Human sacrifice, anyone?

Photo: Diyah Pera/Netflix

Writer’s note: Wiccans and pagans may take issue with the portrayal of “witches” in this series but these are not wiccans these are witches of their own mythology.

And there you have it, friends. We’re in agreement, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a good show and totally bingeable (even if it was made for godless heathens). Well, I’m not saying the Devil-worship in this is right…but I understand. Oh yeah, Philip? Well, I don’t. I want this whole show brought into the light. Except for Ambrose. I like him dark – <3 Sherin.

P.S. This is the best, most ferocious Salem the Cat we’ve ever seen—he’s so cute and deadly!

In the End: Sabrina, girl, you got the devil in you.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina debuts on Netflix on October 26th.