A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sabrina is a 2018 horror movie in which a young girl uses a ghost-finding app to contact her deceased mother and instead releases a demon. This is the third in what's called the "Doll" trilogy -- this movie stands on its own, though, and requires no prior knowledge of the story. Expect a toy doll that didn't look very cute to begin with becoming even more hideous throughout the course of the movie, and human characters going through various forms of demonic possession. One character is stabbed through the face with a pair of scissors. Flashback scene of kids bloodied and hanging from trees. Characters are stabbed, thrown through glass, buried in sand. Demon's eye gouged out. Mouths ooze blood. Some verbal bullying -- a boy who brings a Ouija board-style game to school is taunted by bullies. Overall, this is a clunky combination of The Exorcist, The Conjuring, and the Child's Play franchise.
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What's the story?
In SABRINA, Vanya is a little girl who lives with her Aunt Maira and toy manufacturer Uncle Aiden after the death of her parents. One day in the school playground, a classmate shows everyone the "Charlie Charlie" game in which players attempt to communicate with the dead. Vanya wants to communicate with her deceased mother; at the same time, she is given an iPad by her aunt and a toy doll named Sabrina by her uncle, fresh out of Aiden's factory. With the assistance of "Charlie Charlie" and a ghost-finding app on her iPad, Vanya believes she has channeled the spirit of her mother; she starts to talk and play with her mother's ghost, a ghost that only she can see. But instead of her mother, Vanya has unleashed something far more sinister -- a demon determined to possess someone. The Sabrina doll begins to move on her own, and seems to be behind the mysterious happenings that follow Vanya and her family no matter where they go. The only possible solution to this crisis is to call Laras and Raynard, a pair of married demonologists skilled in the arts of exorcism. Laras has a past history with this demon, and is determined to, in one final bloody battle, defeat the demon once and for all.
Is it any good?
This is a clunky horror movie derivative of at least three other well-known horror franchises. Basically, it's a forced mix of The Exorcist, The Conjuring, and the Child's Play, with nothing worthwhile to distinguish it from those three. The story is a bit of a mess, to put it mildly. Sabrina isn't the central force of evil that, say, Chucky from Child's Play is; furthermore, the idea that a doll that looks this scary to begin with (possessed or not, Sabrina makes Chucky look like a Ken doll) would be mass-produced pushes the extreme boundaries of "suspension of disbelief." It's worth mentioning that the movie takes an unintentionally hilarious turn when the Sabrina doll at its most evil-looking bears an uncanny resemblance to "Weird Al" Yankovic. The "Charlie Charlie" game feels shoehorned in to appeal to "these kids today." And then a husband and wife team of demonologists are sent to rid the world of this terrible demon and even worse storyline.
There's plenty of creepy imagery and bloody moments guaranteed to inspire nightmares in kids, but it's difficult to imagine anyone else being terribly frightened by the predictable and gratuitous violence. Confused and bored, yes. Annoyed by the jumble of storylines? Most definitely. Perhaps one day Sabrina will be like B-horror "so bad it's good" movies of the past that ended up appealing to future generations entertained by celluloid cheese. But for the present day, Sabrina is just plain bad.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about horror movies. How does Sabrina compare to other horror movies you've seen?
What were some of the ways in which this movie tries to scare its audience? Is it effective?
What do you think the challenges would be in making a movie that's intended to scare people? What happens when movies like these don't succeed at scaring people?
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