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For Your Procrastination Only: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

This unique blend of horror, romance and witchcraft in Netflix’s reboot of the 90’s comedy takes some dark turns, making you question your own sense of morality.

May 4, 2019

Netflix’s reboot of mid 90s quirky witch comedy has taken some very dark turns. In the 90s, Sabrina's biggest problem was getting her witching license, now she dabbles in exorcisms and the occasional cannibalism ceremony. Utilizing some of the creative minds that brought Riverdale to life, Netflix has created a unique coming-of-age story blending horror, romance and witchcraft.
The half-witch-half-mortal Sabrina Spellman – Kiernan Shipka – lives with her witch aunts Zelda – Miranda Otto – and Hilda – Lucy Davis – while attending the mortal high school, Baxter High. As her 16th birthday approaches, Sabrina finds it more and more difficult to keep her two worlds apart.
The show, in some ways, builds off its more child-friendly source material. With each episode, Sabrina and her friends dive into some sort of zany adventure, which eventually takes a variety of horrific twists with Sabrina having to save the day. The themes of horror and darkness build momentum too, as Sabrina delves further into her world of darkness. The recently possessed, Mrs. Wardwell, played effortlessly by Michelle Gomez, is always in the background making sure Sabrina remains committed to the Dark Lord.
Charming characters give the show its breadth, so the audience is not constantly stuck in pure dread. Lucy Davis’s Hilda Spellman manages to create a warm and comedic space for viewers to enjoy while they take a break from the high-stakes the rest of the show requires. Hilda is always there with a smile and some cake to make the rest of the characters feel better.
Both aunts make for powerful role models. Zelda, the devout hardened witch who never stands down, acts as one of the few powerful older female characters present in media today. Alternately, Hilda’s tea and biscuits aren’t her only powers; not only is she a gifted potions master – the kind to rival Severus Snape – but she demonstrates the power of compassion and empathy throughout the show.
The show has its struggles. With two seasons worth of episodes, it's almost easy to point out which episodes are simple plot fillers or there to waste time, providing little to no narrative development. At the end of it though, the long journey is still fulfilling with characters that will be remembered.
The show’s 1950s style makes for a visually appealing and unique aesthetic but does not always carry through to the script and dialogue. While most of the supernatural characters pull off the vintage linguistic flourishes, it is almost jarring to hear certain dated phrases from the characters in highschool. It's a tough sell – teenage romance, supernatural gore and vintage aesthetic are difficult things to tie together in a script. Some of the romance scenes seem hand picked from older Hollywood films crushed to fit the show’s horror formula.
Still, despite its flaws, the show draws you in further than you’d initially expect. What is unique and surprising about this new Sabrina is its ability to twist your own sense of morality as you go on. A bold claim, but it's difficult to portray Satanism in a positive light much less have you rooting for its heroes. Upon reflection, the values of the lovable characters seem far from normal. Justifying murder, violent school games and extreme sexual promiscuity aren't traditional or normal values – but then why does it feel so good to be bad? As the show progresses and Sabrina goes down her own dark path, you follow her until you find yourself quietly whispering “Praise Satan” in casual conversation.
With all its quirks and camaraderie, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is definitely something to add to your Netflix watch list, for a rainy day when you’re looking for a little demonic inspiration.
Taj Chapman is Features Editor. Email him at
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