It’s not your ‘90s Sabrina

Even though Halloween is long over that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the new series “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” The long-awaited show finally made its premiere on Netflix on Oct. 26. Made by the same creator that brought us “Riverdale,” it is safe to say this is not the “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” that we all grew up with. Just like with “Riverdale,” this is a refreshing and new spin on a classic. This makes sense due to “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” being based on the comic books by the same name.

If you are someone that was once obsessed with “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” then this may be a series that will take a little getting used to. A teenage witch who lives with her two aunts is where the similarities end.

The story begins with fifteen-year-old Sabrina preparing for her sixteenth birthday where she will be forced to sign her name to a book which means she will serve the Dark Lord and begin her life at a new school only for witches. This means that because she is a half mortal, she will be forced to choose between leaving her mortal life behind or losing her powers.

“The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is darker than one might expect from Sabrina as it deals with demons and the Dark Lord. The series is also quite progressive as it implements multiple themes such as feminism, racial diversity and LGBT representation. This also makes for a diverse cast of characters. Sabrina’s very relatable cousin, Ambrose is pansexual but the show does not make that the character’s most defining trait. One story arc of the first season deals with one character’s gender identity as well. The series takes its time to develop its characters rather than just chalking them up to a one-dimensional being.

The only downside to this series and too many viewers’ disappointment, is that Salem the cat does not speak. Instead he is Sabrina’s familiar with no world domination backstory, however, he is still very cute.

If you enjoy “Riverdale,” have always liked Sabrina’s story or just like witches, this is a show that you will definitely want to check out.


CW releases another spinoff

After the success of “The Vampire Diaries” and its spinoff “The Originals,” The CW greenlighted a new spinoff following the supernatural, “Legacies.”

“Legacies” continues the story of Hope Mikaelson that was started in “The Originals,” as she deals with the aftermath of her parent’s death and comes to terms with her identity as the only “tribrid” in existence, the daughter of a vampire and werewolf, and granddaughter of a witch. She does all of this while living at the Salvatore Boarding School for the Young and Gifted, where the audience has the chance to see other familiar faces alongside some new ones.

Alaric Saltzman, a familiar character to fans of “The Vampire Diaries,” runs the school, while parenting his twin daughters Josie and Lizzie, powerful witches as well. The first episode also introduces viewers to other students at the school, such as new student Rafael, a werewolf who Hope and Alaric rescued from a disastrous first transformation. Milton, or M.G., is Josie’s best friend, and is Alaric’s aide and helps to keep the school’s supernatural students a secret from the outside world using his skills as a vampire. Landon Kirby is Rafael’s mysterious foster brother, who is hiding a secret from the ever-suspicious Hope.

“The Vampire Diaries” tried its best to be a teen drama of sorts, but mostly failed in maintaining that aspect of the show. “Legacies” is following in its footsteps, but is on much firmer footing in the teen drama department as the stories are confined to the school and its students, and the hope is that it will continue that pattern. The show is already proving to be invested in the stories of the characters, as we learn in the first episode about breakups, betrayals and that at least one of the main characters is bisexual.

“Legacies” diverges from its parent shows in some ways, particularly in the episode format. While “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals” tended to follow story arcs all the way through a season with each episode being about that arc, “Legacies” is playing much more to a “villain of the week” format, with each episode still having something to do with a larger arc, but still standing alone in the series.

The one downside to “Legacies” is that it is definitely meant to appeal to a teenage audience, while “The Originals” and even “The Vampire Diaries” in later seasons appealed to both younger and more adult audiences. Older fans may not find as much enjoyment in this series as in the former two.

Overall, the series is off to a solid start, with strong foundations laid for character arcs, an already interesting storyline for the season and compelling drama that will keep audiences tuning in.


ABAC Choir performs at Fall Concert

The ABAC Concert Choir had their annual Fall Concert on the evening of Nov. 1. The Howard Auditorium seats were full of students, faculty, staff, and family members of those performing. Director, Susan Kirby Rowe, began the evening by introducing the audience to the choir, telling them how much practice and hard work has gone into the preparation for the concert.

The performance started with the entire choir singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “The ABAC Alma Mater”. Instrumentalists joined the choir during the song “Grant Us Thy Peace.” The Chamber Singers were left on stage to sing “What Sweeter Music”, and The Jazz Choir all gathered to sing “There is Faith in Music”, by Dan Forrest.

The evening ended with Roe thanking everyone for attending. The choir will be performing again in December for their Christmas Concert, and again during the Spring of 2019.


A wonderful tribute to Freddie Mercury

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a love letter to the members of Queen, their music, and the life of Freddie Mercury. It depicts some of the most memorable moments in the band’s career. Queen guitarist, Brian May, and drummer, Roger Taylor, consulted on making the film. They crafted the film to highlight Freddie as an icon so the rest of the band become secondary characters.

Gwilym Lee and Ben Hardy play Brian May and Roger Taylor respectively. Joseph Mazzello plays bassist John Deacon and Rami Malek plays the enigmatic frontman. Aidan Gillen plays Queen manager John Reid and Lucy Boynton plays Mercury’s lifelong friend and partner Mary Austin. Mike Myers makes a fun cameo appearance as EMI executive Ray Foster who drove the band away over the single, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’

As a movie, it is nothing groundbreaking. If you have ever seen a rockumentary before, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is nothing new. It is fun and it’s characters carry the story. Malek will no doubt be in award conversations for his performance in this film. That being said, we all knew that Mercury would be the main focal point of the film yet, the film does nothing to help us really get to know the singer on a deeper level.

I would like to have seen more moments of Mercury’s inner thoughts. We see a lot of montages of the bands rise to success, their stardom, and their falling out. There are a lot of montages given as expositional fillings. It leaves the film needing a true antagonist beyond the self-destructive behavior of a famous figure.

Not to say that the film is rushed. The first act does move quickly, we see the band form and their first performance where we see Mercury’s iconic broken mic stand. After that, there is a montage of the band performing at bigger and bigger crowds. It slows down to show makings of key songs like, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” During this point, we do get a funny cameo from Mike Myers who argues on whether the classic song should be the album’s single. He suggests that the single be, “I’m in love with my car.” Myers says, “It’s a song teenagers can sit in their car and headbang to or whatever they do.” It brings Myer’s iconic  “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene from “Wayne’s World” full circle in a joke that even works with the movie.

The greatest moments in the film come from Queen’s music and Malek’s ability to capture the screen. The concert recreations bring songs we’ve seen made to life and help us to see Mercury’s talent on stage. All these moments help to move the film along but it does leave the story to become generic.

As the plot progresses we see the personal relationships that Mercury and group cultivate like his partner and lifelong friend, Mary Austin. Mercury’s coming out to her is quickly brought up and resolved. We see them become friends, even moving into a home next to Mercury. Their relationship does help add tension in the later years as Mercury becomes jealous of her new husband and family.

Beyond the relationships he creates and Queen’s rise and fall, there is not much else to constitute a story. The only antagonist is Mercury himself. We do see a little backstabbing happen between Mercury’s lover, Paul, and the rest of the group. He acts as the Yoko Ono for Queen. But again, his subplot is brought and somewhat quickly resolved, as their relationship ends when Paul does not inform Mercury of Live Aid. Mary Austin helps Mercury rid of Paul and begin to love himself.

The movie relies heavily on the talent of Malek and Queen’s music to entertain audiences. The former band members serving as producers make the film do little to criticize Mercury as a man. It instead chooses to focus on the aspects of him as a person and the music that made him an icon. It is nothing that needs to be seen in theatres but I recommend you get it when it’s available to buy. I’d give the film a 6.9, Malek’s performance drives the film and it is as entertaining as singing Queen karaoke. It does feel a little empty as a story and the film does not let you savor some of the best parts of the film. The film is available at the Tift AMC in the mall parking lot.


‘‘The Haunting of Hill House’’ is horror done right

Sonder as a feeling is best explained on the highway. Inside every car you pass, there exists an individual or even a family of individuals with a life as intricate and meaningful as your own. The Crain family feels like that family in a car you just passed. The Crain family are the main characters in the new Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House”.

“The Haunting of Hill House” takes horror TV to a new level with its depiction of mental disorders, losing a parent at a young age and other childhood trauma due to the families time spent in Hill House one summer. Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of the 1950s novel uses time to show why the characters act the way they do as adults through their experiences in Hill House. This is done by showing the Crain’s as adults with families and jobs and then switching to them as children in the dreaded Hill House. The first six episodes are each focused on one family member which can be monotonous, but it keeps your attention long enough to draw you back in with the flashbacks.

It focuses more on family drama and how living in the sinister house affects the families dynamic rather than relying on cheap jumpscares around every corner. In “The Haunting of Hill House”, the house traps those who die there and it is never explained why the house keeps the ghosts. All we know is that the house feeds off those living within it.

‘The Haunting of Hill House” is different because it puts real three-dimensional and dynamic characters in these haunting situations. Flanagan has recently confirmed that the Crain siblings each represent one of the five stages of grief and it follows their birth order. Their grief comes from the loss of their mother through what they believe is suicide and being ripped away from her in the middle of the night with no explanation.

The characters are so tangible that you can see yourself in their shoes especially if you’ve dealt with childhood trauma or the loss of a parent. I relate the most to Eleanor Crain, better known as Nell. It’s not because she is the youngest sibling along with her twin Luke, but because she was too young to remember her mom as much as her older siblings.

Nell is the protagonist of the story and the glue of the family. Slight spoiler warning, she dies in the first episode of the show and proceeds to haunt her siblings, especially when they refuse to get along. She also remained in contact with their father despite him being alienated by the others due to his refusal to explain their mother’s death. Nell’s funeral is the first time the Crains have been together since Nell’s wedding. They all put their discrepancies behind them when it comes to their youngest sister. While alive, Nell is haunted by a ghost she named as a child, the Bent-Neck Lady. The Bent-Neck Lady manifests most often as an illusion during Nell’s ongoing struggle with sleep paralysis. Nell represents acceptance. This claim is further backed by the last episode where she gives a monologue exactly about acceptance and moving on, but never forgetting.

The lighting in the show is undoubtedly off and oddly yellow. This was done on purpose, of course, but it missed the mark for me. White in most scenes isn’t white. It’s more of an off-yellow. I could understand this color grading more if they were maybe showing the “good times” in a slightly cheerier color scale, but instead, it’s used in every scene. “The Haunting of Hill House” makes up for this in the camera work. There are multiple scenes where you’re experiencing the conversation or the character in the room through a reflection. When this happens you aren’t sure if you’re looking at reality or what the house wants you to see as it digests the Crains. The first quarter of episode six is done in one continuous shot allowing your eyes a break from darting around the screen searching for the focal point of the scene.

“The Haunting of Hill House” is horror done right. I was thoroughly creeped out and the tension build up among the episodes really makes you unsure of when a jump scare will come in and that makes them that much more effective. The Crains draw you in and keep you watching with a grip almost as tight as the grip the house has on them. The house Flanagan chose to be Hill House is truly eerie with its statues around every corner and drawn out hallways. I feel like we never saw the entire house and if it gets renewed, the focus should be on the beginnings of the house and the tormenting ghosts among its corridors. Speaking of ghosts, there are hidden ghosts in the background throughout the series. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking series with spooky tendencies and a hidden ghost scavenger hunt, then “The Haunting of Hill House” should be next on your “to be watched” list.