Sabrina Bewitches Under a Dark Spell

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Published October 30, 2018
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The Montclarion
Kiernan Shipka plays Sabrina Spellman in Netflix's remake of the classic comic and TV series, "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina." Photo courtesy of Netflix

In the midst of the ’80s nostalgic train Hollywood seems to have brought us on, there has been a slew of great throwbacks to yesteryear. Starting with the likes of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” audiences have shown quite an interest in revisiting this period with pizazz.

From “Stranger Things” to “GLOW,” Netflix has also hopped on this ongoing trend, which has yielded them tremendous results. The former shows have become critical and global phenomena that reference everything from gory horror movies to classic arcade games on top of having well-developed stories. Original characters, like Eleven or the Demogorgon, are now icons of this decade, plastered in toys and posters everywhere.

As Netflix continues to cultivate their own new IPs, they have recently begun to show an interest in creating content based on previously existing properties. One such creation is their new show, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” based on the comic “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.”

This poses quite an exciting challenge for the company since the high ’90s sitcom is synonymous with the character, which was a light look into a witch’s life with heavy strokes of comedy. When it was announced they would be tackling this with help from the creators of “Riverdale” — a ratings darling for the CW — most assumed the show would also have a humorous tone.

That being said, this separates itself significantly from the previous entry, portraying the environment where Sabrina lives in as ominous and deeply foreboding.

This is a dark show that may be marketed for teens, but with the amount of blood-splattering violence, one can forget it is meant for younger audiences. Yes, there are moments of much needed levity throughout that ease the tension, rather than letting the experience bog you down. However, I applaud Netflix for taking a huge risk with this property by allowing its titular character to be morally gray at best.

Sabrina Spellman is a regular girl on the surface, but she must figure out how to live a normal life as someone whose family is embedded in Satan. It is in the dynamic and struggle to fit into two worlds that works best at developing a strong arc for her to follow.

Newcomer Kiernan Shipka breezes through this role like it is nobody’s business, bringing some heart to every episode in spite of the heavy subject matter. The fact that this comes from the creators of “Riverdale” made me chuckle at first, but once bodies started being mutilated in horrific ways, I found myself doing so nervously instead.

Viewers are in for a terrifying treat to binge through this Halloween with a smile. Familiar faces, such as Ross Lynch, allow for great secondary characters to fill out the rest of the show, building a world ripe with imagination.

There are a couple of episodes that bleed with nostalgia of other properties in the horror genre. Make no mistake, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is an ode to horror with a tone reminiscent of classics such as “The Exorcist.”

Fortunately, these elements are balanced perfectly with heartfelt and vibrant characters that will have you falling in love with the freakish adventure.

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