From the incredible opening credits that pay homage to the Archie Comics Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series, audiences know that the new Netflix original series of the same name is going to be a truly delicious offering. Those expecting something similar to Melissa Joan Hart's 90s show should look away now; this is horror television at its finest, with plenty of scares to keep viewers on their toes.
Former Mad Men star Kiernan Shipka steps into the titular role of Sabrina Spellman; a young half-witch, half-mortal who we first meet just days before her 16th birthday. With some big choices to make about which path she'd like to follow, she's a young woman who has been forced into adulthood before her time, but somebody who's more than capable of tackling the challenges that await her head-on.
Shipka's performance is one that I admit left me a little jarred at the start. In Sabrina's opening scene, there's a whiff of overacting on her behalf, but it doesn't take too long for her to settle into the role. It soon becomes clear why showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa had her as first choice for the character - she embodies her almost perfectly - and as the series rolls on you'll find yourself both rooting for and believing in the young heroine.
She leads an incredible ensemble cast, in which the fellow women such as Jaz Sinclair and Tati Gabrielle, along with her non-binary co-star Lachlan Watson threaten to steal any scene they're a part of. Michelle Gomez in particular is a mesmerising presence once her character's episode 1 transformation is complete.
Honestly though, it's Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto's portrayal of Sabrina's aunt Hilda and Zelda Spellman respectively that left us with the biggest smile on our face. In many ways, the duo are complete opposites, but both want the best for their niece. They deliver some stellar lines through CAoS's first 8 episodes, and we eventually found ourselves hailing Satan alongside them. Oops!
Many wondered if Aguirre-Sacasa would go all out with the horror element of this series, and we're more than happy to report he blows all expectations out of the water. A number of moments made us jump out of our seats in the first episode alone, and there are plenty of scares throughout the batch of episodes we saw that should leave genre junkies beaming.
Props also have to go to the male members of the cast! Richard Coyle is perfect as the creepy Father Blackwood, whilst Ross Lynch's take on Sabrina's love interest Harvey Kinkle is realistic enough that you'll be rooting for the pair to work out.
Of the men however, it's the mesmerising Chance Perdomo, Sabrina's pansexual cousin Ambrose Spellman, that takes his performance to another level. He's a shoulder for Sabrina to lean on when she's forced to confront the aspects of her witch life that she may not agree with, and he possesses a wisdom that she needs on more than one occasion in order to make the decision that's right for her.
Aguirre-Sacasa has done a fantastic job of bringing the CAoS comic series to life here. He's managed to tick all of the right boxes for somebody who enjoyed the source material and was a little apprehensive about seeing it brought to life, even going beyond that at times and delivering subtle but stellar changes to the narrative and approach. If this doesn't become a success, it'll be a crime. Let's hope there are plenty more Sabrina adventures to come.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is out now on Netflix.
Tagged in Netflix