Monday, February 18, 2013

Show Review—American Horror Story: Asylum

When the first season of American Horror Story started 2 years ago, I tuned in because the trailers for the show looked pretty interesting, but since it showed on F/X I didn't have a lot of hope it would ammount to anything.

I was absolutely wrong.

By the end of the season, I was stunned at how great the show was. And when it went on to win several awards, I noted that I wasn't the only one who thought the show was great.

So, I was anticipating the second season with the exact opposite of the apathy and passive interest I had the first season—I couldn't wait. And if anything, season 2 outdid season 1.

It's a peculiar show. It's really not much like any other show I've ever seen. Each season of American Horror Story is self-contained. The story is VERY tight, with a lot of continuity between episodes, but once a season ends, the story ends. Several of the actors remain when the new season starts, but the story changes completely. In a way, a season of American Horror Story is basically a 10 hour-or-so long movie that uses some (but not all) of the actors and crew as the previous one.

If your asylum doesn't look this creepy... you're doing it wrong.
The first season was about ghosts, and the second one is about madness... but that's like saying "Alien" is about space miners or "Jaws" is about fishing. Among other things, American Horror Story: Asylum is about murder, love, demonic possession, psychopaths, serial killers, mutants, mad scientists, aliens, and the angel of death. And more than that.

The thing I love about the show is that it just throws SO many horror tropes into the mix, yet somehow manages to make it all work. The excellent acting and directing and cinematography certainly don't hurt. Neither does their curious but very effective use of horror movie music from other movies... the use of Philip Glass's theme from "Candyman" provides one of the most satisfying and incredible sequences in the entire season.

The show's been picked up for a third season, and several of the actors from seasons 1 and 2 are back (including the ever awesome Jessica Lange!). The wait begins again!

American Horror Story: Asylum...
  • ... made me realize how scary James Cromwell is when he plays a bad guy.
  • ... isn't afraid to set the bulk of its story in the 1960s, which helps prevent modern intrusions like cellphones, the internet, and modern medicine from making it easy on its characters.
  • ... will hopefully touch upon one of America's greatest horror writers next season or beyond that—Lovecraft!
  • ... has solved the problem of what to do if a show gets cancelled early with too many storylines left unresolved—they were gonna resolve them by the end of that season anyway, so no worries at all! Fortunately, the show's doing quite well, and its unique setup, which doesn't anchor itself to any one set of actors or crew, could well mean it could go forever! I wouldn't mind that.
  • ... really made me feel sorry for poor Chloe Sevigny.
  • ... delighted me with the late season addition of Ian McShane for a couple episodes.
  • ... has one of the best opening credit crawls on TV today. Game of Thrones is the only one I can think of that might have it beat.
Grade: A+

1 comment:

  1. I only managed to catch the first episode of the second season, but the fact that Ian McShane shows up means I have to get this when it comes out on DVD. Great review!