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Season in Review: American Horror Story


american horror story poster

I’m deviating from the norm in the most applicable sense by reviewing an entire season of a depraved, disturbing and excellently made show, American Horror Story. Rarely does a show depict the immorality of seemingly normal individuals as well as AHS.

Grade:

B+

If you’re like me, horror is never in the typical arsenal of choices for movies or television to watch. Being frightened is not an enjoyable experience, and I look to popular culture for entertainment above all. However, occasionally a story or article will catch my eye praising a horror movie for capturing the genre perfectly and allowing for non-horror fans to find entertainment—like Cabin in the Woods (which I have yet to see). Naturally, when a television show received the same acclaim, my interest was piqued.

The pilot for the first season of AHS is one of the best pilots I have seen in a long time. It’s disturbing. It’s horrifying. It’s amazing. You are captivated from the opening scene and your heart is on high alert for fifty minutes. Some are immediately motivated to continue into the season (now that it’s readily accessible). Others, myself included, are cautious about continuing for fear of what is to come. After much convincing, I soldiered on and found the remaining 11 episodes to be less intense and more psychologically altering than overtly frightening.

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In addition to the pilot, two episodes stand head and shoulders above the rest for plot and character progression, creepiness, and quality: Halloween Part 2 (#5) and Smoldering Children (#10). As you can see, these episodes are evenly spaced out to revitalize your attention past any potential dips in storyline, of which there are some. Having the knowledge that the AHS seasons are mutually exclusive allows you to immerse yourself fully in the story trying to guess what’s real, what’s imagined, and who is in that damned rubber suit!

The acting is excellent all around. Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott (The Campaign) lead a solid cast that also includes great performances from Taissa Farmiga (Violet Harmon), Evan Peters (Tate), and Zachary Quinto. Kate Mara, Lily Rabe and Frances Conroy have great roles that allow them to fit the mold of the show very well. However, the real force of the show resides in Jessica Lange as Constance. She is just unstoppable—the character and actor. Lange immediately steals every scene containing Constance and you cannot look away. You want to hate her for being evil incarnate, but you also love how devilishly devious she is. If anything, she’ll keep you coming back for more.

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The one major pitfall from the first season of AHS is the finale. It has almost no redeeming qualities set up by the rest of the season. You get the feeling the writers ran out of ideas after the tenth episode and had to finish somehow, which also includes the penultimate episode. It’s disappointing, to say the least, and I almost wish I had not watched it all and simply read a synopsis. It has a different tone, theme, and layout from the other episodes.

In any case, AHS is definitely worth your time. The production value is excellent; the music is dissonant in all the right ways; and the camera captures everything in a twisted, yet artistic way. If this were a movie, the ending would have a more significant effect on my grade, but the three episodes mentioned above allow AHS to keep its grade stable. Watch it, but be sure to find a mood changer for afterwards—mine was Bob’s Burgers.

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  1. Love this and Bob’s Burgers.
    I actual think season two is better 😀

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