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CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA (S3) gets 7.5/10 Heating up


Season 3

Created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Starring Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Davis, Miranda Otto, Chance Perdomo, Michelle Gomez, Gavin Leatherwood

7.5/10

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are heating up this season! If you’re unfamiliar with Netflix’s spellbinding series, it follows Sabrina Spellman – a teenage half-witch – who must reconcile her dual nature while fighting the evil forces that threaten her, her family, and her closest friends.

Based on the Archie comic book series of the same name, the series is considerably darker and more adult-orientated than the original comics – and largely more than the previous live-action adaption. This season introduces a whole new type of witchcraft that threatens to upheave the Church of Night and put a spanner in Sabrina’s rise to power – it’s a slow burn, but like its brother Riverdale, it picks up after episode five.

The cinematography and production design have maintained a substantial foothold across the seasons and builds on the nostalgia for classic horror cinema –with vibrant pops of crimson, to the haunting silhouettes of the Spellman Manor and the Academy of Unseen Arts.

One of this season’s shortcomings is the development of the titular character herself. Despite being of two worlds (growing up around Witch Culture), Sabrina continues to be naïve to her duties, heritage, and traditions – though to the credit of the writers, the character makes fourth-wall reference to this in later episodes – Sabrina also grows more petulant and bratty, quickly becoming the quintessential “fearleader” throughout the season. Her lust for power and change is without regard to the consequences, making her a morally ambiguous character – which almost gets swept under the Infernal Rug in the final episode, so to speak.

Prudence (Tati Gabrielle) stands out, as she grows out of the “mean witch” trope and into a warrior woman who will stop at nothing to protect her family and loved ones. This trait is also seen in Hilda (Lucy Davis), who breaks free from her sister’s shadow in a multitude of ways, showcasing the duality in motherly behaviour: from nurturer to fierce protector. Although somewhat rushed, and perhaps overshadowed by Sabrina, Nick confronts Satan in a way that many of us tackle our inner demons each day.

Between the Witches Council and Blackwood’s rampant sexism, to the Kings of Hell staging a coup d’état, it’s hard not to draw parallels to our own socio-political climate. The season continues to build on previous themes of sisterhood, family, female empowerment, sexism, and sexuality with substantial writing and characterisation.

There’s a new player in the game of cat and witch, with Sam Corlett as Caliban, the Prince of Hell. Corlett recently graduated from the WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in 2018, making him yet another Australian to break out on a Netflix Original Series, championing the screen alongside Miranda Otto and others.

Overall the flow of this season was not smooth, and at times felt disjointed with poorly interwoven plot lines – such as an increased number of “musical” episodes. With all the sacrifices which occurred during the eight episodes, so too was this season.

Part Four is to be announced in the coming months, with the first episode to be entitled: The Eldritch Dark, alluding to an appearance of some of Lovecraft’s beloved tales.

JOSHUA HALL HAINES

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