Riverdale creator and showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has offered more insight on how season 2 of the show is being inspired by suspense thrillers and horror movies - including, one particular Alfred Hitchcock classic. Aguirre-Sacasa himself is no stranger to the horror genre, seeing as he wrote both the 2013 film adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie and 2014's The Town That Dreaded Sundown (a "meta-sequel" to the cult 1976 horror/suspense thriller of the same name) prior to his time overseeing Riverdale. Moreover, as the current Chief Creative Officer of Archie Comics, Aguirre-Sacasa has led the charge to move the larger Archie franchise into darker thematic territory over the past few years (via comic book spinoffs like Afterlife with Archie).
The horror element of Riverdale season 2, according to Aguirre-Sacasa, is an extension of the approach that he and his creative collaborators took to the high school drama of the Archie comic books in season 1 - namely, refashioning it as a Twin Peak-inspired soapy neo-Noir story that is set in motion by a local murder and gradually begins to expose the dark underbelly of the eponymous small town. Aguirre-Sacasa also says that the speech given by Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) in the Riverdale season 1 finale, where she called out the town's residents for having long turned a blind eye to the problems that plague their home, will lead into season 2's own suspense/horror-driven narrative and make Betty the focal point of the drama that ensues.
Speaking to EW, Aguirre-Sacasa explained that he didn't want to cover another murder mystery in Riverdale season 2, out of concern that it would come across as "a pale imitation game" of the Jason Blossom murder mystery in season 1. This, in turn, inspired the showrunner and his writers to embrace horror/suspense in season 2 instead - with Aguirre-Sacasa naming Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt as an example that illustrates how Riverdale will go about doing just that in its second season:
“One of my favorite movies is Shadow of a Doubt, which is an Alfred Hitchcock movie which has often been described as Our Town with a killer on the loose. I was always obsessed with that idea. This season is a little bit of an homage to that. The big theme is what happens when you’re living with fear day in and day out that something terrible might happen. And how your life changes when you’re walking home from school and you see someone and you cross to the other side of the street. Or when you go to bed, you triple-check your front door to make sure it’s locked.”
The residents of Riverdale have fair reason to be scared while going about their day-to-day business in season 2, following the shocking attempted (?) murder of Archie's father Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) in the Riverdale season 1 finale and Aguirre-Sacasa's previous tease that a sinister figure known as simply "The Sugar Man" (Fred's would-be killer?) is now roaming the streets of Archie and his friends' hometown. Aguirre-Sacasa avoided elaborating too much on the mysteries at the heart of Riverdale season 2 beyond that, though he did emphasize that "Betty’s speech in the [season 1] finale at the jubilee about how the town needs to do better has repercussions" and that puts Betty herself at the heart of the trouble to come:
“I would say by episode 4 and 5, Betty is absolutely in the heart of darkness. We’re putting her through the fires like never before. I can’t say too much because there’s a couple of big twists, but Betty is absolutely at the heart of the darkest story we’re telling this season.”
While Riverdale season 2 promises to be darker and more intense than season 1 was in these respects, the show will also have a full season (re: 22 episodes) to explore its mystery/thriller storyline(s), unlike the shorter 13 episode count of season 1. This should also provide room for more episodes that focus on the supporting characters in the series (think Kevin, Josie and so forth) and their everyday struggles that don't involve attempted murder and related sorts of terror. As for Betty: between finding herself at both the heart of season 2's "darkest story" and struggling to keep her relationship with Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) afloat (see those "Bughead" love triangle rumors), it probably goes without saying that "Dark Betty" will be showing up in full force at some point over the episodes that lie ahead.
Riverdale season 2 premieres with 'A Kiss Before Dying' on Wednesday, October 11th on The CW.