Review: “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” Is a Dark Reimagining of the Source Material

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is one of the new Netflix original shows released on Oct. 26. The show focuses on a 15-year-old Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) as she navigates through her life as a half mortal and half witch, leading up to her 16th birthday.

The show does not follow its predecessor from 1996 in term of light heartedness. The current rendition is dark and brutal, albeit entertaining.

There is a lot more to this show than just witches, spells, and satanic offerings though. It brings to light gender identity, as in its casting of Lachlan Watson as “Susie.” Lachlan is an actor with the pronouns he/him and they/them. The series shows the hardships of a person that identifies as a different gender in a small, overall unaccepting town. The show also subtly focuses on abuse in the family, whether it is emotional or physical, and the importance of friendship.
The series may have mixed reviews, but it has a 7.9 rating on IMDB.COM, which is pretty good for a Netflix show. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% certified fresh, and that is an astounding rating for a Netflix release, which has been known to release some unfavored content with the critics.

Some of the reviews on IMDB, while negative, point to some issues that have bothered more than one person, and it is a little jarring when you see it, over and over throughout the first season. The issue is a certain effect that is applied in post-production. While most films and shows use “depth of field” to focus on a certain element of a scene, “Chilling Adventures” uses an edge blurring effect which comes across as a poor attempt at creating this depth without using the proper lens settings. It may be purposeful, and the show makers might be trying to convey something, but it just looks like an oversight during production that was remedied with a cheap fix. Over all, the effect is slightly nauseating, and if you wear corrective lenses, you may think it is your glasses or contacts that are smudged.

Minor technical qualms aside, the show is filled with vibrant cinematography and accompanied by an underlying score that gives an ethereal feel to the series. The acting leaves none wanting for more as each performance is delivered to near perfection. The set design is well executed and draws you in to the little town of Greendale.
For those that wonder how much different the new show is from the old… The names and places are the same. If you take the old show, add some murder, sprinkle a little satanic ritual, toss in a dash of fear and loathing breaded with teenage angst, you get “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”. Yes… Salem the cat is in the show as well.

If you have run out of things to watch, and this show has yet to be streamed, it is definitely worth watching, although I wouldn’t suggest letting young children watch it being as it is not the “family friendly” version that appeared in 1996.
“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” stars Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Davis, Chance Perdomo, Michelle Gomez, Jaz Sinclair, Tati Gabrielle, Adeline Rudolph, Richard Coyle, Miranda Otto, Abigail F. Cowen, and Lachlan Watson.

Verdict: 3 out of 5 Stars

Review by Lee Frazier

At a Glance:

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Donna Thorland, Matthew Barry
Directed by Rob Seidenglanz, Maggie Kiley, Lee Toland Krieger
Production Companies: Warner Bros. Television
Distributors: Netflix

%d bloggers like this: