Despite lacking a certain talking cat, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina debuted this week leaving me more than impressed with Kiernan Shipka’s portrayal of the Teenage Witch that captured our childhood imaginations.
Additionally, Ambrose – Sabrina’s cousin under house arrest – is her one true confidant and oozes style and subtle evil. This just wouldn’t be the same without her fake-sounding English accent, which I was surprised to find out is actor Chance Perdomo’s genuine voice. Unfortunately, it seemed to me that Sabrina’s other family members didn’t have the spark that they should’ve had. Hilda and Zelda could have been cast so much better and I felt no allegiance with them as the episodes went on. They had no chemistry with one another and seemed such overlooked parts.
What compensated for this though was the supportive friendship group in Sabrina’s high-school. It was a successful portrayal of intelligent and thoughtful female characters, whilst championing diversity and inclusivity for their school environment. However, I did find myself questioning some of the script and whether these elements were included to tick the box of ‘trendy’ feminism, rather than promote genuine feminist beliefs.
The reboot has exaggerated the darker subject matter of witchcraft so that it fits better into a teen-horror genre, and it works perfectly. I really liked the cinematography, which despite the darker vibe was bright and almost pop art-y, inevitably similar to Riverdale – the same producers being behind both series. This colour scheme seems to reference the Archie comic that originally gave us Sabrina Spellman; there is also a nod to her cartoon in the title sequence.
Something that I found interesting was that the show doesn’t shy away from referencing genuine satanic cult symbols, such as the inverted cross, the pentagram and Baphomet (a goat-headed demon). The inclusion of these enabled a sense of realism in their recognisability and made the darker witchcraft practises seem spookier and more unnerving.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a far cry from the classic late-90s sitcom that we all loved, but I’m pleased that Sabrina has been given a new lease of life for the Riverdale era. If Salem the cat did speak as he did in the original, I would only complain that Nick Bakay didn’t continue to voice him, which does defeat the object of a reboot. Anyway, this show is decidedly more serious, so perhaps it would seem ridiculous to have a talking cat alongside its move into the creepier teen-horror market filled with the likes of American Horror Story.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is available now on Netflix