“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is Spooky, Compelling, Could-Be Cult Classic

Kiernan Shipka in "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina"

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is worlds apart from Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and is a spooky, compelling, could-be cult classic.

The series to binge-watch this Halloween was Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The show is an adaptation of the ’90s popular TV show Sabrina, The Teenage Witch. The reboot also fits in with CW’s Riverdale, which was bought to us by the same creative team. There are definitely references to the show, which will please any fans of the comics universe.

The series kicks off with Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) planning for her 16th birthday, like any other teenager. The only difference is that her mother died when she was a child, and her father is a warlock. She is therefore put in a difficult and unique position, where she must decide whether she will declare her devotion to serving Satan with her father, or remain in the human world.

It might seem like a no-brainer for Sabrina to keep her powers, but it would mean giving up her friends and her boyfriend. Her relationship with Harvey is what grounds her in reality, and what keeps us emotionally invested in the show. Her mortal relationships are intricately crafted, and her loyalty to them is believable and enjoyable to watch.

On the other hand, the magical side of the show is a lot more extreme and dark than we expected. The leaders of the family coven try to convert Sabrina to the dark side and Michelle Gomez is fantastically charming in her antagonistic role as Mary Wardell.  Sabrina is dragged to the underworld and back, constantly reminding the audience that this version of Sabrina is nothing like the peppy tween witch in the ’90s. Instead, she is fierce, tormented and stuck on a literal hellscape.

The atmosphere of the show is consequently Gothic and gruesome, sustaining a powerful feeling of haunting throughout, both metaphorically and literally. We would have liked to have seen more of the Academy of Unseen Arts, but there is plenty of room for this in the second season.

Overall, the show did a good job of setting up Sabrina as a Buffy-esque style heroine, and the adventures certainly were as “chilling” as promised. Consequently, any times the show is confused or lacks in something can be forgiven, as the series really does have potential.