An American Horror Story: Season 2: Asylum
Generally I would not review one episode of something but since I have decided to relax the rules on the blog (for necessity) I decided since I was over-the-moon excited about this new season I would allow it.
As I have mentioned I love horror. Horror in all forms. I love ghosts and goals, killers and demons, thrillers and blood-splattered abandoned building.
Therefore, when I heard that a new show called “American Horror Story” was airing on TV I was extremely excited…but also skeptical.
You see, I have burned in the past. I tuned in eagerly to many different dramas that had exciting dark trailers only to realize they were crime series or soap operas. I even stuck with “Pretty Little Liars” for about 5 episodes waiting for it to really break into some good horror (I mean it had potential- mysterious notes from beyond the grave, possible serial killers) before giving up completely after the show lent more to teenage boredom rather that blood and guts.
But in episode 1, season 1 of AHS I fell in love. A family at its breaking point, a haunted house, a maid who exposed infidelity by a changing appearance and the most incredible portrayal of a bigoted old aristocracy neighbor played by Jessica Lange.
Each episode drew me in closer. The opening sequence was horrifying, babies in jars, dark stairwells, falls disembodied nightgowns and strong, rhythmic music. The episodes slowly dissected the history of the house, each family divulging the unique horrors they faced. And all the while the maid and the neighbor conspire.
And then it ended.
And I have waited anxiously and fearfully for the next season, dreaming and hoping that it would live up to the last.
Last Wednesday I got a little treat-an evening off work and a chance to watch the premiere.
Jessica Lange is back and just a wonderful as always. She changes from a sweet, sickly innocent creature to the devil herself so quickly and smoothly it takes my breath away. This season she plays the head nun who runs an insane asylum in the 1940s. With her is a quiet, abused nurse forced to feed a creature what is presumably the bodies of missing inmates, dismembered at the hands of the resident doctor- a twisted surgeon interested in performing illegal lobotomies. Perhaps this creature or perhaps another resides in the basement of the building. The viewer sees, in modern day, a couple visit the (now) abandoned building and watch as the unknown creature tears the arm of boyfriend off, leaving he and his girlfriend to limp from the darkness.
In addition the show is populated with a presumed serial killer-said to skin his victims alive. He claims he did not do this and rather aliens are involved in the mysterious disappearances. Attracted by the famous resident a reporter comes to investigate. When she does not return her lover and secret girlfriend is left in a distressed, frantic state, blackmailed into silence while her partner suffers.
Last season the show built slowly, introducing one character, one story line at a time- building the suspense and horror as it continued. This season it seems they are doing the opposite. They are starting with a bang, introducing all the stories and all the characters. But you know, it works. The stories are fascinating and just…crazy. I predict that the season will continue to dissect the different sections and will move in the opposite direction, untangling the mess of horror until things fall into neater packages.
I cannot wait.
Horror is a tricky thing to like. Especially as a Christian it is often looked down upon and scoffed at. Because it is scary it is considered evil.
Granted horror, like any genre, can be good or bad, it can go too far and it can certainly be inappropriate.
But I cannot help but be fascinated by it. The themes it discusses-obviously good and evil but also endurance, human reaction, the existence of fear, faith, spirituality, human nature, cultural meditation, literary connections, historical significance, psychology, myth and the emotions it stirs in me-taking my breath and making my eyes grow wide are so intense, they are like nothing else.
Why is it when a child says the word “Mama” it is normal but it they whisper it, it sends chills up the spine. That is what intrigues me.
So of course Asylum has one point already for the genre in which it exists and I am ready and willing to award it more.
Bring it on.