demons & possessions

[Netflix Review] Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 1 (2018) ★★★★★

sabrina Spellman in the woods in chilling adventures of sabrina part 1

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 1 brings satanic praise and teenage fun.


The road to hell is paved with good intentions as Sabrina Spellman the teenage witch surely will find out this first part of the devilishly fun new series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. A new supernatural fantasy horror series with witches devoted to the Church of Night and the Dark Lord, a.k.a Lucifer/Satan himself. It mixes teenage drama, romance, the occult, some horrifying scenes, humor, and the complex family of the Spellmans. There’s raising the dead, limbo, dark rituals, cannibalism, astral projection, an exorcism, a dark mysterious history, the Academy of Unseen Arts, a Dark Baptism, feminism, female empowerment, patriarchal dominance, gender identity, and of course the struggles every teenage girl has to face. It’s not easy being a half witch half human and it’s only getter harder. 

This first part consists of 10 episodes and 1 bonus Christmas episode, with a duration of 50-63 minutes. It’s a continuous story with one big story arc and several smaller side adventures who always are connected with the overall storyline. 


Plot

At her sixteenth birthday, Sabrina Spellman, half witch half human has to choose between two worlds, the Path of Night or being a plain human. While Sabrina struggles with her choice, choosing between power and her friends, other dark forces are gathering to fight against her. 

Sabrina is a very powerful girl, as a witch, but also with a strong mind as a human. Her friend Rosalind (Roz) is a strong woman fighting for her rights, while Susie is struggling with her gender identity and Harvey is fulfilling the role of Sabrina’s boyfriend. Aunties Zelda and Hilda, are quite a pair. While Zelda is strong, fierce, cold and devoted to the Church of Night, Hilda is bubbly sweet, understanding and more openminded. Cousin Ambrose is under house arrest for the last 75 years and is smart and cheeky. 

Miss Wardwell is Sabrina’s teacher whose body is taken over by a powerful witch determined to make Sabrina sign her name in the Book of the Beast and is manipulating her every witch which way she can. Father Faustus Blackwood is the High Priest of the coven. The weird sisters, consisting of Prudence, Dorcas and Agatha are determined to make Sabrina’s life miserable, while Nicholas Scratch seems to help Sabrina. 

Sabrina must find her own way, determine her own identity, but it is not as easy as she thinks and therefore her good intentions don’t play out the way she planned, or worse even. 


Why you should watch it

It’s a hell of a show. With many fun nods and references to other horror films and series, it establishes in a fast pace its own unique identity, faster than Sabrina can. With unusual cinematography, blurry at the edges and focused on the middle, it is something you’ll have to get used to. But it certainly adds to the creepy and mysterious atmosphere. It gives it a unique visual, but also a unique voice.

A voice that is symbolized by the Church of Night itself. A patriarchal system in which women are kept under control, for the pleasure and power of men, where men invent lies to maintain gruesome, out of date traditions who long since lost their meaning, used to subdue woman and prevent them to claim their power, while most women are used to this arrangement and have forgotten all about their powers. 

Although this series has a strong feminist undercurrent, this theme is very well balanced throughout the episodes, as the horror, the fun, teenage romance and real life problems and typically witch problems, are not forgotten. Sabrina is in the center of it all and we follow her story while the themes, both social as supernatural evolve around her. 

The characters are a delight and unique with each his/her own qualities that defines them, but not as black and white as you first might think. Characters get the opportunity to grow, to gain insight, learn and evolve, or to sink even deeper into darkness. Again, this is all intertwined with the story about Sabrina and the choice she has to make and her supernatural occult adventures. And while she means well and tries to do the right thing, it’s not always done for selfless reasons and this will lead her unavoidably to hell. 


My favorite part

My favorite characters in this series are of course Sabrina, she is naive but means well, she’s strong willed, fun and lights up every scene. But Zelda and Hilda are also forces to be reckoned with. Quite the opposites of each other. Zelda killing Hilda every time Hilda annoys her, then burying her in the ground from which Hilda raises again, is a perfect example of their complex relationship. But when Zelda is confronted in a nightmare by Hilda’s permanent death by her hand, she is devastated. They both add fun and gravity to the series, being  two fun old spinsters but the guardians of Sabrina as well. 

But who definitely steels the show is Miss Wardwell, she is evil and a little crazy, over the top, cunning, sly and such a delight to watch. This role is tailor-made for Michelle Gomez and reminds of her role as the excellent Missy in Doctor Who. Although she is evil, you can’t help but like her, maybe even love her. Without this character the series wouldn’t be half as fun. 


Bonus episode

The Christmas episode brings us a Bright Yuletide with both Gryla the mountain witch and the Yuletide demon Bartel. It’s a perfect Christmas episode with the holiday spirits and heralds a new beginning for Sabrina as her new life of a fulltime witch begins. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★★

Epic factor: ★★★★☆

Scare factor: ★★★☆☆

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★


Read more about Chilling Adventures of Sabrina:


Cast and crew

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is based on the Archie Comics and created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. It stars Kiernan Shipka (Sabrina), Lucy Davis (Hilda), Miranda Otto (Zelda), Chance Perdomo (Ambrose), Michelle Gomez (Miss Wardwell), Ross Lynch (Harvey), Jaz Sinclair (Rosalind), Lachlan Watson (Susie), Tati Gabrielle (Prudence), Gavin Leatherwood (Nicholas) and Richard Coyle (Faustus).

Music: Adam Taylor. Cinematography: Stephen Maier, Brendan Uegama, David Lanzenberg. Production companies: Archie Comics Publications, Warner Bros. Television. Original network: Netflix.


Check the trailer below


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