Trailer Watch: Why Netflix's 'Siempre Bruja' Looks Compelling

In this new regular feature, The Hollywood Reporter puts the spotlight on TV series that may fly under the radar.
Courtesy of Netflix
'Siempre Bruja (Always a Witch)'

Welcome to Trailer Watch, a new regular feature that helps put the spotlight on series that may fly under the radar in the crowded Peak TV landscape. Each installment of Trailer Watch will explain what the show is and why it looks interesting. Leading off: Netflix's Siempre Bruja (Always a Witch).

Witchcraft and magic continue to be big trends in television, with recent breakouts including Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina; Syfy's The Magicians; The CW's Legacies as well as its Charmed reboot; and Sundance's upcoming A Discovery of Witches leading the charge. Netflix will be adding to the supernatural fray Feb. 1 with its new original series Siempre Bruja (Always a Witch).

Based on the novel Yo, Bruja by Isidora Chacón, the Colombian production from Caracol Televisión is only the second Netflix original to hail from the South American country and fits into the company's broader strategy to foster more inclusive projects. The first recently released trailer showcases a unique take on the popular subgenre with some added time travel for good measure.

Starring Angely Gaviria as Carmen, the show focuses on the young girl who is tried as a witch and sentenced to death in 17th century Colombia. Just as she's about to be burned at the stake, Carmen is transported to modern-day Cartagena, and therein lies the conceit of this unexpected and anticipated series. The core idea of a witch out of time instantly makes Siempre Bruja stand out and offers an apparently original entry to what looks like a CW-esque teen drama filled with magic, mayhem and the potential for romance as Carmen attempts to reconnect with a loved one, all while avoiding the looming threat of contemporary witch hunters.

Another way in which Siempre Bruja looks to challenge the established nature of witch-based entertainment is with the centering of black women. Often, contemporary witch stories are lacking diversity, whereas Siempre Bruja is not only led by an Afro-Colombian actress but is also rooted in historical fact. Cartagena — where the show is set — played a large part of the period's barbaric slave trade, and was home to the Court of the Holy Office which oversaw the gruesome acts of the Spanish Inquisition. This included a vast and far-reaching witch hunt that saw hundreds of people, including a number of black slaves, tried and found guilty of witchcraft at the so-called Palace of Inquisition.  

It will be refreshing to see a different take on the much-adapted lore of witchcraft, especially as it is a project which Netflix appears to be excited about. "Siempre Bruja is not only a magnetic young adult story that audiences will love, but also holds a powerful message of empowerment that will connect deeply with members both in Colombia and globally," Netflix vp international Erik Barmack said in a statement announcing the series. One of the best things about the streaming model is the opportunity to take chances on properties which might not otherwise find a home and audience, and with the online buzz that the show has garnered since it was announced last year, it looks like Netflix may have another hit on their hands.