Deviating from the path a bit from games, I wanted to bring forth my drug addled thoughts on the new season of American Horror Story!
I’ve really enjoyed AHS since the first season. To some degree (again, I’m a big fan) I’m not sure if the show has lived up to the depth and charm of it’s first season. Season 1 was creepy, but had depth for all of the characters, both in this world and beyond. It was terrifying and alluring, brooding in darkness and despair, while maintaining a lightness and normalcy in the world around it.
The following seasons increasingly lost the likability of their characters and a relatable normalcy in Asylum, Witches, and Freak Show. Though they did try harder with Freak Show for one or two characters, there was no one worth loving or rooting for (except Pepper) like there was in the first season.
I believe, and I hope that I’m wrong, that much in the same way that the SAW films devolved from tension, mystery and gore into just gore porn, AHS has turned down the mystery, and likable characters (which ultimately makes their misfortune more horrifying) and has cranked up the visceral aspect. The sex and the violence, and sexy violence, and the violent sex, along with the slow panning fisheye camera work. Over the years the show has substantially become style over substance with flashes of brilliance of what it once was.
I say this confidently keeping in mind how Freak Show ended in such an abrupt and disappointing manner, in addition to how I feel their character development and overall storytelling has become progressively unimportant. I’m leery but, I will go in with fresh eyes like they intend us to every season with the same group of actors in new roles. Certainly, this is their most beloved aspect of AHS. However, this hook, this novelty in and of itself can not carry the burden of entertainment if the characters and story aren’t well thought out.
I hope that they bring back the element of likable characters I feel they’ve lacked in seasons past as well as offsetting the darkness with a dash of regular. Give us mystery. Give us relatable and deep characters. Give us the creeps. *now watches the show*
From here on out, I can not stress enough…
Cast: The entire cast is now entirely comprised of just Kathy Bates in special effects makeup & costumes. I suspect some CGI might be involved. Most of the key actors are all here and a surprising amount of new blood. Most notably missing from the roster is Jessica Lange. She always played first fiddle in the show but has quit, at least for now.
Notable new cast members:
Matt Bomer (White Collar, Chuck)
Lady Gaga (that blows)
Chloë Sevigny (blows hard in Brown Bunny)
That one guy from 30 Rock
Story: American Horror Story… in a hotel
Episode 1 Summary: Two hot hipster Swedish girls come to Los Angeles on vacation with their biggest concern being how close they are to Universal Studios. Unversal Studios? This is already starting off on shaky ground. So the young ladies embarking on their dream vacation to see Universal Studios unwittingly make a reservation in an art deco, OBVIOUSLY haunted hotel where shit is all fucked up and ghost people pop in and out of frame with super fisheye slow panning camera.
I would have taken one step into this place, pivot on that same foot and “NOPE!” the fuck out of there, just like any other rational person, except the Swedes apparently. No, they actually endure the abusive customer service and check in to their room! They’re creeped out but it’s still ok, until a half-dead person emerges from their “smells like a dead animal” mattress. The Swedes scream, the “not quite dead yet” guy screams, we all scream for ice cream, and opening credits.
Typical to the series, the credits have that “guitar amp in a wood chipper” sound with super quick cuts of girls in lingerie, dead things in lingerie, creepy statues, and nuns… also in lingerie. Yes nuns. Nuns again, because nuns are always the makings for good creepy credits.
What’s unique to the AHS’s credits, but entirely ununique?… Not unique?… What is very typical to the horror genre is using the theme of the ten commandments which sort of makes this SE7EN, meets The Shining. However, the commandment theme presented in the credits is not written into the episode at all. No symbolism or point of dialogue refers to it. This might be revealed in later episodes or we might see it’s just for shits and giggles.
The credits do their seizure/boner/ew enducing thing for 2 minutes, annnnd we’re back, and the Swedes are STILL IN THE FUCKING HOTEL!!!
This is the thing that gets me. Shows run out of clever ideas eventually, which seemingly results in the writing room being filled with writers touting “you know what would be really clever?” But it’s not clever! These writing choices are totally incongruent to rational thinking. We’re to believe these girls on vacation, who are under no trance in the beginning of their stay, would not leave for their own safety at the risk of losing some money? That is totally absurd and frustrating to the viewer.
Here’s a stupid/simple idea to make it more viable: Swedes show up to a creepy hotel, but the desk clerk is nice and they get to their room and the meat bag in the mattress kills them, but no. NOOOoOo. They now merely serve as this impossible to believe plot device to introduce the recurring characters and “horrifying” scenery. That is shitty writing.
So the Swedes are taken to “ROOOOM SIXTY-FOOOOOUR!”. We know it’s significant because the camera does several close up fisheye zooming shots of the door and room key. There they finally fall into the entrancing trap of this, again, OBVIOUSLY haunted hotel and the one hot swede awakes to find the other, slightly hotter swede having her blood sucked by albino toddler vampires. Fuck.
The rotting person, who looked like the sloth victim in SE7EN, inside their mattress wasn’t spooky enough, but albino vampire brats? Vampires? *sigh*
This show is now SE7EN, meets The Shining, meets Village Of The Damned, meets…The Twighlight Saga. Shit.
Cut to David Tenant. No wait that’s Adam Scott. No wait wait…SKINNY DON DRAPER!
Sorry. So now we meet some detective and are treated to some sexy violence where a (as naked as possible for basic cable) dead girl is still straddling her boyfriend who had his eyes and tongue gouged out, WHILE this girl had been riding cowboy on him.
So we’re expected to believe that in a matter of seconds, a killer runs a curtain rod through the girl on top of this guy. While this happens, the guy didn’t think to jump up or squirm out and allowed his eyes and tongue to be forcefully removed. Also the room had been swept by the time meaningless detective arrived, but he managed to find key evidence just barely hidden under the bed. I’m reminded of the tapped out writer’s room, replaced with 15 year old boys.
So we cut from super gore porn, mixed with regular soft porn to (who cares about his name) detective talking to his very adorable daughter and sappily reading her a bedtime story via Face Time. Super gore porn, adorable girl? SUPER GORE PORN… adorable girl? Terrifying, but not in the way the show intended.
Taken from a scene not dissimilar to SE7EN again, we have a “horrific” strap-on dildo, fleshy zentai suit wearing ghost thing that sex violence butt rapes poor ol’ Schmidt. This scene is far too explicit and goes on for far too long!
Ok, real talk? Think of this scene, played out exactly the same with a female victim being viscously raped with camera angles that are inches away from showing penetration going on as long as it did. The girl, just like Schmidt, cries out and tearfully pleads for help as we hear and see this monster sexually assault her. Do you think that this show would be banned and picketed by feminist groups? Do you think that this would be ok to depict in such a graphic & realistic way for a basic cable show that can’t even show a woman’s bare breast? Most people would say that this would be way too far, some won’t and that’s ok. But the fact that it’s a dude, everyone can suspend belief and be entertained thinking “ooh, this show is so creepy” and not “this is legitimately not a good thing to see on TV.” But, what the hell it’s a dude getting raped by the total recall drill so “SCREW YOU!!!”
I feel as of now that the episode lost me both in horrifically bad writing and absurd content. I’ll simply provide key points of the more notable moments:
Detective person shows up to Hotel and goes to room 64.
Detective person naps and leaves from room 64. Dafuq?!
Backs of peoples heads, lace adorned no nipple boob, backs again, goth wear like they’re going to a Marilyn Manson concert, creepy slow motion walking and finally, Lady Gaga’s vapid, expressionless face. The first scary thing I’ve seen.
Really bad asian girl actor smiles weird and way too much. Lady Gaga in lingerie, not bad, completely ruined by her droopy eyed, sag face. Violent sex. Anime grade showers of blood. VAMPIRES! God dammit!
Now a quick aside again. Sorry, time for another real talk. This whole scene with Lady Gaga and Matt Bomen getting dressed and seducing their victims is scored by “She Wants Revenge – I Want To Tear You Apart”. (Writing room: “You know what would be clever? Obvious musical foreshadowing!”)
If you don’t recall, She Wants Revenge was a once popular one-ish hit wonder that was a complete knock off of David Bowie and Interpol. The chorus of “I Want To Tear You Apart” ends with “I want to fucking tear you apart”. The show edited the song without the “fucking”. This fucking show depicts radical acts of sexual violence, dismembered body parts, the entirety of a woman’s breast except the nipple, blood spurting out of a severed neck, Matt Bomer’s bare ass and silhouetted ball sack, along with Lady Gaga’s horrifying, sociopathic face and still they fucking can’t say “fucking” or have the word “fucking” within a shitty song? The ratings and standards for what is acceptable to depict and say on TV is completely gosh darned ridiculous.
Back to the melt down…
THE SWEDES ARE BACK!!! Because vampires, that’s why. *sobs*
Detective McGuffin has a broken marriage and takes his daughter to an emergency call.
Detective leaves his daughter with the only cop at the scene and runs into the building with no backup. Oh wait, nevermind. The terrified little girl gets out of the car while dumbshit cop is distracted by some hedges while she runs into the house.
Daughter finds crime scene of very muscular, disemboweled men, screams and killer escapes. Wait. So two buff dudes couldn’t take out an average sized, Inspector Gadget looking killer? FUCK YOU, WRITERS!
Flashback scene about detective so he seems like a relevant part of the story.
New owner of the hotel arrives with his son. The actor that plays the kid is painfully obvious that he doesn’t know how to throw a ball. Fuck this kid… wait! Don’t AHS, please don’t!
Not quite ghost/vampire/damned people are threatened by new owner’s arrival.
LADY GAGA’S FACE!!!
LADY GAGA’S VOICE!!!!
LADY GAGA’S ACTING!!!! Damn. This show is scary.
Bitch kid that can’t throw a ball is introduced to albino vampire toddlers in a game room I am legitimately jealous of.
Another expository flashback so we can resonate with these horrible cast of characters.
Sarah Paulson’s character being pushed out of a window with a pretty visually tame impact onto the ground. However, they really ramped up the celery being crunched while another foley artist fists a jar of peanut butter to capture the sound of a spine breaking.
Final thoughts: About the only thing representative of American Horror Story’s title is that it is, in fact, American. I’m a big horror fan but not just for gores sake. I think that, beyond what I feared, AHS has devolved not only beyond their glory of the earlier seasons, but right into late SAW sequel territory with a heaping side of rapey. There is no tension, or juxtaposition. It’s all just disgusting eye candy with fisheye camera work while everything is utterly macabre with low light, shades of brown and Lady Gaga’s nerve blocked face.
The Good: The amazing art deco of Hotel Cortez.
The Bad: Please don’t make me relive all of that again.
Arbitrary rating: D- out of 10