Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Chapter Five: “Dreams in a Witch House”
Directed by Maggie Kiley
Written by Matthew Barry
* For a recap & review of Chapter Four, “Witch Academy” – click here
* For a recap & review of Chapter Six, “An Exorcism in Greendale” – click here
This episode’s title is a clever play on “The Dreams in the Witch House” by H.P. Lovecraft, which was adapted into a Masters of Horror episode directed by Lovecraft-lover Stuart Gordon.
Aunt Hilda (Lucy Davis) gets grief from her sister Zelda (Miranda Otto) for not spending her time reading the “Satanic Bible” after being excommunicated. She wants to apply for a job at Cerberus Books and gets shit for that, too. After solving the Acheron configuration, Sabrina’s (Kiernan Shipka) set a demon loose. Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) is alerted, then the family must seal the house so the demon doesn’t go any further out into the world. The witches join hands, recite an incantation, but the demon’s still in there with them. It’s been in the puzzle for “70 years.” She’s pissed off, wanting revenge on Edward Spellman’s kin. No match for Aunt Zelda— BAM!
Note: The demon’s face design sort of reminds Father Gore of the face for Anjelica Huston’s transformed witch in 1990’s The Witches. Also, the song we keep hearing is “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” originally recorded by Ozzie Nelson, most famously sung by Mama Cass with the Mamas & the Papas (Father Gore’s favourite version).
Although everybody’s relaxing at the Spellman house, the demon – Batibat (Megan Leitch) – hasn’t gone anywhere. Madam Satan (Michelle Gomez), through her witchy spy mirror, sees the demon, though Batibat is angry at the “Mother of Demons” for abandoning her in Edward’s “Acheron puzzle.” This demon will stop at nothing to get its revenge and get out of that house.
Another fun note: Batibat’s name comes from an actual vengeful demon from Ilocano folklore. Read more here.
Already Sabrina’s caught in a nightmarish world. She sees Harvey (Ross Lynch) there, the Weird Sisters, and Nick Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) all at Baxter High. Her boyfriend actually proposes to her in the middle of the hallway. Zelda doesn’t approve, suggesting Nick as a suitor, and Hilda thinks if she’s in love she should follow her heart. Aunt Zelda tells her being torn between “duality” as half-human, half-witch will be the end of her.
Skip ahead and the pair are about to get married. Sabrina confesses she’s a witch and made him forget she already told him once. He doesn’t care, he loves her. Before the wedding, Nick wants her to “fly off” with him on a broomstick, and she refuses. Then her father Edward (Georgie Daburas) takes her on the walk down the aisle to the altar, where Father Faustus Blackwood (Richard Coyle) presides over their ceremony. Suddenly, Harvey’s dad shows up interrupting things and a chant breaks out as Harvey strangles Sabrina: “Kill the witch.” Then it’s a Mario Bava Black Sunday homage— the young witch is put inside an Iron Maiden and blood runs from its openings as her flesh is pierced.
“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”
In the morgue, Hilda and Ambrose receive a victim of a stabbing. The corpse looks just like Ambrose. Another rendition of “Dream a Little Dream of Me” plays while he’s got to cut into the body. He takes out some organs to have a chomp before Hilda calls him up to see Father Blackwood. The High Priest removes the hex keeping the young witch captive in the house. Ambrose is able to leave finally. Before he can, he’s hacked up by the demon. Afterwards, he wakes as the corpse on the table instead of being the one doing the cutting.
Love how Madam Satan keeps wandering through the nightmares!
Next on the nightmare list is Hilda, who gets called in to see Principal Hawthorne (Bronson Pinchot). The principal’s trying to woo her. She’s flattered and excited for a date. Zelda, as always, is negative about her sister, bringing up her being a virgin, calling her “a turd,” and more nastiness until her sister literally shuts her mouth. On the date, Hilda winds up meeting Hawthorne’s partial twin he ingested in the womb, only to realise she’s sewed onto her own sister. Batibat soon emerges, looking for the spell to unlock the house. Love how she uses the term “dark half” for Zelda as the nasty half of their conjoined state— wonder if that’s a Stephen King reference?
On to Zelda next. She gets word the Dark Lord is coming to dine at the house tonight. She decides to cook a child for his arrival. How quaint! Satan arrives, looking suspiciously like Blackwood, and he’s not pleased the “roast child” was a witch, preferring Hilda’s vegetable pie instead. Zelda’s nightmare is almost funny, though it’s unsettling how much she hates her sister. She murders Hilda, only for Satan to return later and tell her this is the final time— Hilda is gone forever. This shows Zelda actually cares, in a twisted way. She’s eventually approached by Batibat for a means to escape like the others.
Sabrina is stuck in her Iron Maiden when Madam Satan arrives to tell her Batibat is manipulating them all through dreams. She’s told to run as soon as she’s freed, yet she refuses to leave her family behind like the possessed woman suggests. Then Sabrina comes out of the dream with the prick of a voodoo doll.
Awake again, Sabrina looks for Ambrose but can’t wake him. She looks through his books for an answer, using incantations from one of them to try putting Batibat back inside the Acheron. The demon is defiant in the face of the witch’s inexperience. Things get nasty, and Salem comes out to try distracting Batibat. Sabrina and Salem communicate as the witch tries figuring out a plan fast. She finds a bit of foxglove, intending to do a bit of lucid dreaming to attempt taking out the demon. She gets to Hilda, who gives her advice, and then she finds Ambrose to let him in on their nightmares.
Ambrose distracts while Sabrina gathers Hilda’s familiars – spiders – to trap Batibat in a sticky web acting as a catcher for the nightmare demon. The others wake from their disturbed sleep. Zelda feels altered by what happened, apologising to her niece for not being able to help while under Batibat’s spell, and Sabrina’s seen everyone’s dark nightmares, what they fear so badly. The whole thing was a heavy experience, all around. Later, Sabrina calls Harvey, trying to mentally get past what happened in her own nightmare world. Not only does she have to worry about men because she’s a woman, she further has to worry about them because she’s also a witch.
That night, Sabrina goes to Ms. Wardwell’s house asking questions, and Madam Satan invites her in for a chat. Oh, my.
FATHER GORE’S FAVOURITE EPISODE YET! Just fantastic.
Chapter Six: “An Exorcism in Greendale” is up next.