Kiernan Shipka Talks Her New Halloween-Themed Podcast Movie Treat

Most audiences first met actor Kiernan Shipka during her stint on the acclaimed AMC series Mad Men, but following the conclusion of the series, she would go on to venture into realms that allowed for much more ambitious concepts than seen in the drama. Thanks to starring in Oz Perkins' horror film The Blackcoat's Daughter, followed by her securing the coveted role of Sabrina Spellman in Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Shipka has earned a passionate following, much of which appreciate her for the spooky stories she helps bring to life. Her latest project, the "podcast movie" Treat, sees Shipka continuing to pursue terrifying tales, which is available today wherever you get your podcasts.

From C13Features, written by Nathan Ballingrud, in partnership with Babak Anvari and Lucan Toh of Two & Two Pictures, and co-produced with Best Case Studios, Treat tells the story of a seemingly perfect American town on one Halloween night when its idyllic image is threatened by its buried evil past and terrifying pact with the Piper, the town's sinister outcast. Shipka stars as protagonist and narrator Allie West, a teenager dealing with issues beyond her years while struggling to fit in. But when she learns about the mysterious Piper's powerful hold on the town, she, along with her younger brother, realize they are the only ones who can save their community before it rots at the hands of the Piper. caught up with Shipka to talk her love of Halloween, the best way to listen to Treat, and her upcoming return as Sabrina Spellman for Riverdale.

(Photo: C13Features) First of all, in case you haven't heard it today, The Blackcoat's Daughter [is great].

Kiernan Shipka: Oh, first time I've heard it today. Thank you.

I'm glad I got to be the first. It's just so good.

I really appreciate that. I'm happy that people have seen it throughout the years. It's very nice because it was such a labor of love and it feels like you want to make things as an artist that last and, I have to say, anytime that someone talks to me about it, and it's been six years, it makes me feel like I'm doing what I want to do. It's nice. 

And, hey, I have a Blu-ray of it. I don't even wait for it to show up on Netflix.

No way. I don't even have a Blu-ray of it.

You can borrow mine anytime you want.

That's amazing. I'll send you my address.

Whether it be Treat, whether it be Sabrina, Blackcoat's Daughter, you have all these genre projects so I know some fans probably think you love Halloween. Do you love Halloween as much as your fans might think you do?

It's funny because I never set out to do a lot of genre. It was never a conscious decision. I think I always just look for projects that speak to me on higher levels and that resonate with me. At the end of the day, I think the common thread between all the projects I do is that, at the heart, there is a protagonist or a character that is relatable and has depth. And, many times, that's happened to be a horror movie or something genre-heavy like Sabrina. I think that, on one end, I never really sought it out, but there's also such a thrilling nature to high-quality stuff that is also genre-based. I think that some of my favorite movies ever are horror films and it's because, at a base level, they're artful and they're interesting and the characters are interesting.

Then, on top of that, you have thrills and heightened emotion and I think that film and art is meant to evoke emotion. To evoke not only any emotion, but fright, is such a mission that I love. So all that's to say, no, I've never really felt like, "Oh, this is something I'm necessarily setting out to do," but I'm never going to say no to something fun and scary either. 

Well, speaking of something fun and scary...

Oh, let's talk. Segue. Perfect segue here.

Thank you for the setup. Treat marks a slightly different foray for you. It's not that you've never done voiceover work before, because you have, but this is a whole different beast. This is a feature-length podcast movie. What was it about this concept and about this story that really made you say, "I'm not totally familiar with this, but I'm going to dive right in,"?

A feature-length podcast is a pretty original concept. I read the script and I really loved the script and I read it like I would read any scripts for a film, but in the back of my head, I had this idea that this isn't going to be a film, this is actually going to be an audio experience. Which, first of all, I think is super cool because it makes people dive into their own imagination. It's like reading a book, if you will, or just listening to a story, a ghost story, a bedtime story, whatever it may be. Letting people run wild with their imagination not only is interesting, but I think makes things scarier. I thought that it really worked for the project. Also, the fact that high-quality content can be created efficiently, I did my part in five days, is really exciting.

I think the fact that cool stories and artful stories can be brought into people's homes or cars or workplaces or daily walk in a matter of not nearly as much time is exciting. I think people want, and we should be able to give people, as much cool, interesting content and storytelling as we can. I would like that. So the appeal was just everywhere within this project. Nothing about it was a red flag. Everything was like, "Oh, wait, that makes it 10 times cooler." 

I think in this day and age of podcasts, people just think podcasts and it's like, "Oh, here's this thing I'll listen to at the gym or doing laundry or driving," or whatever. Is this something that you think you really do have to commit to, turn the lights off, maybe light some candle or a Jack-o'-lantern, or do you think it is just as rewarding for someone who's maybe a more casual listener?

I think the great thing about it is that it can go both ways. I can certainly imagine a long drive and this being very entertaining. I can imagine going on a walk and having it in your ears as you watch the leaves fall and feel the cold air. There's a heightened experience to that. I think that you could clean your house and listen to it and it would be really fun, but the ritual of lighting a candle and dimming the lights is also super thrilling. I think I would most closely equate it to your favorite songs. You could totally listen to it in the background, but it's a different experience if you sit down and then you really sit with it. So, obviously, I would lean on recommending people to truly sit with it and listen to it. But if you don't necessarily have the time or the place to do that, you're not excluded from the listening experience at all.

I know there was some super exciting news recently about a certain Miss Spellman dropping by a certain TV show. Was knowing that that was going to come, did that make the ending of Sabrina Part 4 a little bit easier for you, to know, "All right, I'm saying goodbye to Sabrina for now, but I get to play her on Riverdale in a little bit,"?

Oh, I had no idea I was coming back. Well, also, when we shot Part 4, we didn't know it was the last one. So I've had no warning. I'm rolling with the punches, but I love Sabrina so much that anytime I get to play her, I'm there.

And you're playing Sabrina five years older now because Riverdale is in the future...

You're going to have to wait and see.

All right. Busted. You caught me.

I can't tell you that. I think there's a trailer out. I think that trailer just came out for Riverdale

Right, and I wondered what it was like to play Sabrina as an older version of when we last saw her.

I don't think it's a matter of younger or old. I think it was a matter of ... It was really interesting for me slipping back into her shoes because I hadn't been her in two years. I was surprised at just how quickly she just took over again. It was like riding a bike and you never know about that kind of thing. I'd never played someone and then not, and then gone back and did it again. So that was a new thing for me. I didn't know how that was going to work, and I was just like, "Oh, this fits like a glove." And it was very fun.

Treat is available now wherever you get your podcasts.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter.