Television Reviews

Style Over Magic Stunts ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’

As her 16th birthday approaches, a girl must come to terms with her half-witch nature that will take her from her mortal life. While struggling to accept this, she will also face evil forces that attempt to harm her. This new Netflix series is based on a the comic books, which inspired the 1996 series Sabrina the Teenage Witch. It’s clear from the start that this show is nothing like the 90’s version, taking a more dark approach, similar to the comics. Though this show has a lot of redeeming qualities, it seems to favor overdone stylization than really bringing a witchy vibe.

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Sabrina Spellman leads an average life of a teenager. Going to the movies with her friends, hanging out with her hunky boyfriend Harvey, and anticipating the excitement around her 16th birthday. However, she’s not looking forward to a license or a new car, she’s preparing to learn all the dark spells of the supernatural world. You see, Sabrina is half-witch, her father being a powerful warlock before he and Sabrina’s mother were killed.

As Sabrina looks to maintain some sort of normalcy despite her magical side, she can’t escape her destiny. Which has also caught the eye of an evil, murderous, force.

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While it may be hard for passionate fans of the original series to appreciate this one the same way, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina sets itself apart enough that the two feel entirely disconnected. Sometimes in an unfortunate way, as with Salem, the Spellman’s cat. Once a wise-talking witch, sentenced to a furry life, both in the comics and original series. However, in this one he doesn’t speak and is instead a goblin in disguise (so sad).

My disappointment in Salem aside, I think the series has nice differences from the original. For one, the tone is much darker. There’s no hiding demons, blood, and truly dark magic in this one – which is a nice switch up. The more mature series is intriguing, though sometimes too mature. At times the show reached a little too far into 13 Reasons Why territory, with lots of overly adult-like 16-year-olds tackling politics in high school.

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Perhaps the most obvious annoyance is the editing in the series. While cinematography as a whole is peak level, post effects are added, at random, to scenes to give it a fish-eye lens, blurring the edges. It’s both dizzying and obnoxious, serving no purpose to the scenes.

But it’s not all bad, Kiernan Shipka portrays an excellent version of Sabrina. She’s a little bratty at times, but there’s something endearing about her. However, my favorite character is not Sabrina this time, but one that is new to this series, and that’s Sabrina’s cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo). He demands almost every scene he is in, both funny and charming. And also Lucy Davis delivers many giggles as goofy Aunt Hilda.

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I think the series is okay, but it could have definitely improved on a few things. Going forth, they have got to get rid of any weird blurring post effects. It’s just far too distracting. Dropping the overdone stylization and focusing more on the writing and pacing of episodes, as some got a little, dare I say, boring at times.

You can catch all episodes of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix now.

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