Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Season 1), 2018
Signed up the 28/03/2017
While the 90s Sabrina (show) is all about family and glittery magic spells, and actually (though whimsical) doing magic, Netflix's reboot is the reicarnate deviant twin who was devoured whole by its other half in the womb, now possessing a warm host, and subsequently wreaks nothing but character, witchery and pure malevolence. I'm saying, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is "pause, do a prayer and breathe before continuing" kind of scary. You'd think an originally children's story wouldn't dare go to such murky depths, but Netflix went there and then some.
In this Netflix reboot, we see a Sabrina from recent stories in the Archie Comics series, than soliciting any real tie to Sabrina the Teenage Witch (show). Her primordial existential crisis of whether to go full-witch of full-mortal is still in tact, though with a change of both atmosphere and themes. As I detail a little more below, this version is as dark as Satan's abysmal chambers.
Inverse to the 90s show, this Sabrina comes with Satanic attitude and chilling wiccan pride. I mean, the characters on this show worship Satan so much that they kneel at his feet to kiss his gravel-warped feet and reassure their sincerest of duty, whenever the Dark Lord sees fit that his beastly, animate, presence be adorned upon those that need extra Satan-peppered manipulation. "Praise Satan!" is a natural spasm of gratitude, proclaimed more often than you'll ever encounter in your waking life.
Though I have a bit of a problem with hardly ever seeing Sabrina do actual spell-casting as regularly as expected, the magic is gloriously done when it does happen—kin to real-life source material that has been archived since the dawn of the wicked and their dark arts. Kiernan Shipka is Sabrina, in so many ways that it even becomes annoying how much she embodies the true nature of the teenage witch—the disposition is uncanny. Sabrina is all stubbornness obbing* over a soft, cushiony heart under all that deviancy of a frustrating adolescent witch.
Chilling Adventures fails on characterisation, otherwise. Or rather, it fails to pay enough attention to the rest of the characters without making them feel like mere props to Sabrina's witching adventures. No matter, her aunties Hilda and Zelda, Satan bless their contrasting souls, manage to become the favourites of the show. While one is mousy the other is a darkened bar of evil, but they both serve the equal amount of laughter and emotion spread out throughout the show.
This is the emotion Kiernan's Sabrina fails to carry out herself as she's far too concerned with her self-actualisation and existential crisis, and also being the villain to the most villainous character to ever exist in folklore history, Satan himself. It goes without saying that the talented Michelle Gomez's (Doctor Who) Mary Wardell (an otherwise shy, lonely teacher possessed by the mother of demons) becomes the cheeky and sultry star of the show, as she leads a small feminist revolution, all the while using her urbane trickery to lead Sabrina right into the Dark Lord's palm.
I have so much to say about the cinematography, the detailed set designs and the location where this story unfolds, the glorious music that encapsulates each individual scene ever so beautifully, the constume design, the use of colour, editing and camera (tracking) techniques. SO much, but no words can summate how remarkable each of these aspects of the show are. If not the spirited writing that brings to life this ruthless story, then all these sensory-driven facets of the show will be enough to make you want to see this adventure to the end.
While it's a pop-culture phenomenon and classical household name, the 90s show is way more dough-eyed and pulpy compared to this chilling offering by a determined Netflix. It's not often that precedent media are bettered by their modern versions, but Chilling Adventures might just be one in the few that scores the rare honour. This is a show, much like its star, that takes itself seriously enough to explore territories like no other of its genre (young adult) would dare or even dream of touching—heck, not even Teen Wolf, and God knows that show haunted my early teen years.
If this is what the first season of this show looks like then you can bet on Lilith the mother of demons' name that I'll be on the first broom to the darkened, mystery-warped town of Greendale the minute season 2 drops.
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