Chilling Adventures of Sabrina finally arrives on Netflix on Friday, and those looking for a bit of nostalgia or anything resembling the Melissa Joan Hart series from the '90s will not find it in Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's adaptation of the classic character. This new Sabrina is not meant for the faint of heart, and its TV-14 rating should be taken pretty seriously.
While Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men) does bring a spunky, upbeat quality to the titular witch, the world in which she lives is dark. There are real demons and a goat-headed Satan that appears several times throughout the show's first 10 episodes. There's the occasional jump scare too, but Chilling Adventures of Sabrina's grounded horror tricks are set up to trigger prolonged psychological fear.
"It gets under your skin, which is what any good horror would do," Sabrina star Michelle Gomez told TV Guide earlier this month. "It's not just about someone shouting, 'Boo!' behind you. It's about how it makes you feel. There's a tangibility to its horrification."
Does this mean that scaredy cats can't watch the show? Surprisingly, no! There is an unabashed horror coward writing this article who survived the season just fine (though it wouldn't be a terrible idea to take Miranda Otto's advice in the video above and watch it with a friend for, say, a specific storyline in Episodes 3 and 4 — you'll know which one very quickly).
The darker, ominous tone doesn't just set it apart from the ABC sitcom though. Sabrina's home on Netflix, away from broadcast TV's standards and practices, allows the show to get into more gruesome territory than its companion series, The CW teen drama Riverdale. Not only does the series exhibit more blood and gore, but Sabrina's trials and tribulations are much more intense than the show's counterpart can cover at 8 p.m. on broadcast TV. While both shows both attempt to topple the patriarchy and support female empowerment, Sabrina gets to do it with necromancy and blood magic that is tantalizing to watch.
Satan is a literal character within the show, so Sabrina's struggle to find her own voice comes against the power of the actual Dark Lord. The stakes are higher and the horror of the show helps to illustrate exactly what our heroine is up against as she tries to navigate her way between the mortal and witch realms to figure out what kind of adult she wants to be. The show has to scare you in order for the audience to understand how important Sabrina's decision about her allegiance really is.
"It's worth it to watch because the scares are like a layer of the show, but it's not all about that. It's an enjoyable kind of spicy food," Shipka explained. "It's a fun kind of scary, not a terrifying, go-to-bed-with-nightmares kind of scary."
So get your broom and get ready.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina debuts Friday, Oct. 26 on Netflix.
Additional reporting by Keisha Hatchett