Arts, Television, Review

‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ Swaps Scares for Cringe

The third season of Netflix Original Chilling Adventures of Sabrina opens with a chaotic scene: a half-naked man with a ram’s head chasing down a small blonde girl and a guy who was just stuck in a tree, with the ram-headed fellow declaring “Daddy loves you, too.” If that already strikes you as strange, you’re in for a ride. 

The latest season of Chilling Adventures was released on Friday. It’s a season so fraught with Six Flags Fright Fest-esque special effects and poor character writing that it ultimately loses its way. The show continues after the events of the second season, in which Sabrina Morningstar (Kiernan Shipka), formerly Sabrina Spellman until the second season revealed that her father is, in fact, Satan (Luke Cook), attempts to rescue her boyfriend Nick (Gavin Leatherwood) from hell. The complex plot gets even more twisty in the third season.  

Season Two revolved around Sabrina’s refusal to take the throne of hell as Satan wanted, but in the third season, after realizing that Lilith (Michelle Gomez), Satan’s concubine, would never be recognized as legitimate by the minions of hell, Sabrina takes the throne anyway and appoints Lilith as regent to take care of the day-to-day. A challenger to the throne, with great support from hell, arises in the form of the dirty-blonde, wavy-haired, ab-flaunting Caliban, prince of hell (Sam Corlett), whose origin is never really explained. With Caliban and his supporters aspiring to dominate the mortal realm as well, Sabrina needs to prove her legitimacy in order to keep the throne.

With the third season of Chilling Adventures, the show becomes complete chaos. Much like its sister show Riverdale, which became incoherent by Season Two, Chilling Adventures falls victim to wild gimmicks to distract from the completely nonsensical plot.

The character motivations are one-dimensional and inconsistent. Sabrina’s fixation on her boyfriend as her first priority is at best shallow, and at worst a complete deviation from the smart, independent young woman that audiences got to know in previous seasons. What eventually convinces Sabrina to take the throne is not Caliban’s threat to destroy the mortal realm and everything that Sabrina loves, but the fact that only as a legitimate queen can Sabrina free Nick from hell. 

After Nick escapes hell, Lilith calls Sabrina to a meeting to discuss reforms for hell that Sabrina envisioned, but she is rejected because Sabrina wants to spend time with Nick instead.

Sabrina never seems very concerned about the fate of all of humanity, but if anything ever endangers Nick, she stops at nothing to protect him. 

When Sabrina is on the verge of losing the crown because she won’t bring promised souls back to hell, her primary concern is that she might miss a pep rally. In true Riverdale fashion, Sabrina now cares immensely about pep rallies, is on the cheerleading team, and performs random musical numbers throughout the show that cut through the already-choppy flow like a knife through softened butter. 

The show is also painfully horny, and in the weirdest ways possible. The fact that Satan, Sabrina’s dad, inhabits her boyfriend Nick’s body shouldn’t really raise any eyebrows if it’s just a function of the plot, but Chilling Adventures takes painstaking care to highlight this fact.

When Sabrina realizes that Satan is pretending to be Nick, Satan hisses “Call me daddy” at her and continuously refers to himself as “daddy” both in Nick’s body and in different forms.

If that’s not uncomfortable enough for you, after Nick returns back to normal, other students continuously tease Nick about being subdued by Satan and suggest that Nick was attracted to Satan all along, with a girl going as far as to say, “Will you wrestle us into submission the way the Dark Lord wrestled you?” and Dorian Gray (Jedidiah Goodacre) asking Nick whether the pain of being possessed by evil incarnate turned into pleasure after a while. 

The characters also won’t stop making out all over each other, to the point of ridiculousness. When Sabrina finally finds Nick in hell, her immediate instinct, in this place of potential great danger and in front of her father, is to launch into a make-out session. When Prudence (Tati Gabrielle) and Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) are about to begin a blood ritual to locate Prudence’s father, whom they want to kill, again, they begin to make out. The amount of screen time dedicated to characters being attached by the mouths should have been swapped out for an actual plot.

The special effects in this season are depressing, with sets that look like amateur haunted houses doing little to foster a sense of fright and intrigue. Poor choreography makes what were supposed to resemble fight scenes laughable, creating a lack of immersion in the show.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina started out as a quirky fantasy teen drama that has now erupted into utter chaos. Perhaps some entertainment could be derived from the sheer ridiculousness of the show, but the third season will probably lead more to confusion than amusement, with audiences wondering what exactly the writers were on when they came up with it.

Featured Image by Netflix

January 27, 2020

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