Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Review (2018 -2020, Netflix)

Sabrina Spellman is a high school student at Baxter School, a smart and persistent girl who is friends with two other renegade girls, meets the son of a miner, loves fun and horror movies. She would not be any different from other schoolgirls if she were not a hereditary witch from an ancient family. Soon she will turn sixteen and her aunts, domineering Zelda and timid Hilda, insist that she undergo the Black Baptism ritual and give her soul to Satan himself in exchange for magic and the right to study in a special school for gifted wizards. But Sabrina does not want to part with her friends, even in exchange for eternal youth and the ability to work miracles. Worse, she sees what is happening around and she hates the thought of following the example of other female witches to meekly obey some man, even with horns and hooves. Therefore, the Dark Lord and his protégé, a cunning demoness in the guise of a modest teacher, will have to try very hard to persuade the young witch to the wicked side. And it remains to be seen who will outplay whom in this long and macabre game.

Season one poster.

***

Great show, really. Bold and intimidating, yet cozy and fun, despite some naivety.

On the one hand, at the center of the main plot is a very simple story, part of which can be easily predicted. This is an easy fantasy about magic and the main character, who is the most intelligent and talented (archetype “Mary Sue”), easily copes with all problems and firmly intends to live exactly the way she wants, while the forces of evil persistently want her to play according to their rules. By itself, this plot is not very interesting and original (if you watched “Hellboy”, then in general terms you will guess the main goal of the Dark Lord), but all the other details distinguish the new “Sabrina” from everything else (including from the previous film adaptation comics “Archie”, cute and unassuming television series for girls “Sabrina the Little Witch”, where the main character constantly screwed up, and the doll cat commented on it all sarcastically).

First, take a look. What association do you have with the word “witches”? Dark forces, secret knowledge, danger, deceit … misunderstanding and persecution? If in the world of “Harry Potter” wizards are just a secret society of people who know and are able to program the reality around them with the help of “cheat codes” spells and their power has an abstract source, then the creators of “Sabrina” go further and add a connection with the real history of cults. They describe the gathering of sorcerers and witches as a secret society of Masons practicing the occult and worshiping Satan himself.

The main characters are real Satanists! Isn’t that bold and cool? 😈

It’s a bizarre, upside-down world of absolute opposition to Christianity (the world is emphatically evil, but in fact not evil), which is shown as a given for the heroine – and this is her environment, which Sabrina likes a lot. We do not know how exactly witches and sorcerers came to worship Lucifer and not the Nazarene (although the story of the main demon is partially covered in the series and this is a beautiful reference to “Paradise Lost” by John Milton), but for the heroes it is a real self-sufficient religion, an unshakable part of the world, where black is inverted white, paranormal and hidden from the rest – of course, and the only one who should be prayed for is Baphomet, Satan and Beelzebub, who, unlike the False God, “accepts you as you are , gives strength and does not demand anything in return – before he needs something, but then he cannot refuse …” The eternal motive of a deal with the devil, who is infinitely cunning, but also not perfect, – which means there is a chance and replay it.

The Statue of the Father of Lies stands in the center of the hall of the School of the Invisible Arts.

It turns out a very dark version of “Harry Potter”, where instead of a boy who will save everyone, there is a girl who will destroy everyone (and does not want this, but magic and the struggle for her freedom for her is a challenge and a reward for perseverance), and spells in Latin cause not good patron spirits, but monstrous problems that are not a fact that can be quickly resolved. And this is insanely interesting.

The series has its own atmosphere – in its dark part, they are viscous, gloomy, eerie. This is a real horror film about people who constantly contact evil spirits in order to use it for their own purposes, but are never ready for it and do not quite understand how it works – but believe in it. The Spellman Coven is a close-knit community of individualists who dislike each other, led by a manipulative and power-obsessed high priest, Lord Faust Blackwood, who hates Sabrina’s family because of her deceased father (also the former head of the Church of Night) and is going to reform the temple of darkness where in a more conservative way, because too many of these women had rights, they thought about themselves here … Blackwood is a truly dangerous type who considers himself the governor of the Anti-God on earth, and Sabrina’s family has yet to face him face to face.

Lord Blackwood (right) tries to persuade Sabrina to go over to the side of darkness. Center – Zelda, Hilda and Ambrose.

The series captivates with simple but interesting characters. Sabrina herself is proactive and freedom-loving, at the ideological level she does not pin down the pressure and restrictions on freedoms (and this is not teenage rebellion). Over time, she begins to fight not only for her well-being, but also for the rights of all other women – young Spellman sees that the position of seemingly powerful witches in the coven is no better than the fate of her friends, who are spanked at school by hooligans for being different … Sabrina wants to help everyone – and at the same time find her happiness in freedom.
Not an easy task, even for an adult.

Her closest friends are Rosalind, a book lover with increasing visual degradation, Suzy, who doubts her gender identity, and Harvey, a simple but kind guy with family problems. Despite the fact that these are supporting characters, each of them has its own arch, they develop (Suzy’s line is especially interesting: a homosexual transgender character is unusual and bold, there are very few such heroes in the media so far, but the situation is changing – and this very good for everyone). More attention is paid to Sabrina’s close family – a difficult sisterly couple Zelda-Hilda (a smart and somewhat cruel older sister still loves to scoff at the rustic and kind youngest) and their brother, who is serving a 75-year-old house arrest, clever Ambrose. Once, in his youth, he almost blew up the Vatican, which was too much even for the devil, so now he works as a pathologist in the basement morgue – the Spellmans run a private funeral agency, which, of course, is just an excellent cover for all sorts of bloody witch tricks.

The magical part of Sabrina’s life is represented by the School of the Invisible Arts, which is bigger on the inside than on the outside, and where the Precious Sisters run – a trinity named Agatha, Dorcas and their leader Prudence Knight (a smart, sophisticated and cruel girl with her own accounts to Sabrina). Her ex-boyfriend is an eminently adequate, polite and skillful wizard named Nicholas Scratch, whose paths with young Spellman will still converge.

Sabrina and the Prophetic Sisters (from left to right – Prudence, Agatha, Dorcas)

The first two seasons (especially the second) are a bombshell. This is a complete story with a beginning and an end – where you can safely stop while the series is on hiatus due to the offseason and the global pandemic. The third season was written and made by the same people, but it is so different from everything else that it can be an unpleasant surprise. But the latest episodes make you worry about the heroes more than before, and the series is rehabilitated – it seems that this was the author’s intention: to show what happens when evil is seemingly defeated, the heroes try to live on and relax a little, do a lot of stupid things and copy Supernatural and Disney musicals at their worst. But then again, don’t write Chilling … off if you watch and make it to season three. It’s worth watching to the end – you will be hurt and sad, but the half-open ending will be better than you think.

The new “Sabrina” can be criticized – and on many points. We learned a lot about the dark side of the wizarding world, but almost never touched the heavenly half (except for the cool witch hunters who look like mad maniacs-missionaries with the motto “Let Jesus into your heart, please, or we will brutally kill you”); Hell, which so frightened Sabrina, in the third season turned out to be a frightening place, but not at all scary (somewhat reminiscent of the cruel mixture of “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Wizard of Oz” with its theatricality). Some characters, including Madame Satan and Sabrina herself, take a step back in development and make controversial decisions – but this can be explained by stress and a high density of events (in the third season there are only eight episodes, while in the first two there were ten plus a Christmas issue , which is also important enough for the plot).

Sabrina and Madame Satan, a dangerous and intelligent rival, often acting in the style of “evil that does good without wanting it.”

For the rest – although it is a rather peculiar sight and I cannot guarantee that you will like it as much as my wife and I, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is in many ways an exciting work with its own, almost always fresh, taste. An unpredictable plot in details, soulful characters, an eerie atmosphere (two episodes, one of which is similar to “A Nightmare on Elm Street – 3”, and the other just does the worst thing that can be imagined to the characters – made a particularly strong impression on me ), colorful, dark music, good make-up and even a couple of low-cost effects (hello, “Once Upon a Time”) – the first two seasons fully justify the time spent. Watch the pilot and Episode 2, and get in the atmosphere – your inner idealistic teenage wizard might really like it.

7/10

Season 1

Good beginning

8.5/10

Season 2

Bigger and Better

6/10

Season 3

Most of the episodes are weaker, but the last two are 8/10

It will be terribly interesting.

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