Saturday, September 15, 2012

You're all Going to Die in There. Looking back at American Horror Story, season 1.

By Sati. Saturday, September 15, 2012 , , ,
Before we get committed to the scary Asylum on October 17th, let's take a little look back at the first season of American Horror Story. In the world where there are literally no good horror films lately, unless you forget The Cabin in the Woods, American Horror Story is chilling, imaginative, engaging and creepy. The series, awarded with impressive amount of Emmy nominations - 17 to be exact - debuted last year on F/X.

The first season tells the story of Harmon family - dad, a shrink who cheated on his wife with his student, mom, still struggling to forgive dad for his betrayal and teenage daughter Violet, who loves dark, creepy things, cuts herself and is your typical angst ridden teen. They move into beautiful, big house that is kinda a main character of the season of its own - in each episode, in the opening sequence, we get to see one of the many murders that happened in the house. Starting in 20's of previous century and ending in modern day the carnage includes murderers, ghosts, mysterious Rubber Man, creepy Infantata who hides in the basement, wives serving justice to their cheating husbands, twisted doctors, deformed children and promiscuous maids.
One of the most fun things in the series are the references to horror classics and latest famous creepy films - from borrowing the music themes - such as those from Dracula, Insidious and Psycho - to visual homages and similar scenes - like mother abusing her daughter by locking her in tiny room just like in Carrie or pregnant woman having bizarre craving just as she did in Rosemary's Baby - American Horror Story season 1 is like a love letter to horror movies.

The murders we see are often times disturbing and seriously creepy - even famous Black Dahlia (here played by Mena Suvari) makes an appearance. The creepiest and most frightening thing in the whole season for me was the origin of frightening monster Infantata that lives in the basement and attacks whoever is unlucky enough to wander there. The back story of that creature is really heartbreaking and messed up. And the attack in the basement from Pilot episode is hands down the scariest thing I saw on TV. But the main villain of the season is Rubber Man - something or someone dressed in kinky latex costume.

American Horror Story has very imaginative and freaky opening credits, created by the same people who brought us famous credits in Se7en, which also provide many clues to the plot and characters of the season 1. Just like enigmatic teasers released before the premiere, we get to see key elements, subtle hints and we are left guessing as to what do these things mean. The structure of each episode is seemingly chaotic - we go back and forth, often times we don't know what is going on, but in the end of the season all of the puzzles will create one image.

But perhaps the main reason to watch season 1 is Jessica Lange's bravura performance as Constance Langdon, tough and arrogant woman, aging Southern belle and a mother who loves her children but often times doesn't express her love in a normal or even comprehensible way. She is the one who is privy to the house's secrets and responsible for some of the ghosts that haunt the mansion. Her character is one of the most fascinating  I ever saw on TV series and Lange is fantastic in playing her, commending the screen whenever she is on. The show is filled with memorable performances including Frances Conroy's maid and Taissa Farmiga's troubled Violet. Then there is Evan Peters as teenager Tate, who is an object of affections of pretty much every single teenage girl who watched the show.

Why is the show so successful in being scary? Because it deals with many horrors, not just the ones that are the invention of fantasy/horror writers but also the things that scare all of us. So in addition to ghosts, doctors playing God and urban legends we have school shooting, deformed children, pregnant woman being scared of what is growing inside her, a husband who cheats and his lover stalking him and children who don't want to have anything to do with their parents.
American Horror Story, brainchild of Ryan Murphy, is designed to be horror anthology - season 1 is behind us and season 2 will be a brand new story set in different time and different place. This time it's going to be Asylum run by nuns and we are being transported back to the 60's. Some of the actors from season 1 are returning though - Jessica Lange will be the main attraction again, this time playing strict and ruthless sister Jude, who one time was quite fun loving girl. Zachary Quinto who was flamboyant gay murdered in the house in season 1 will be a doctor in the asylum, who doesn't agree with sister Jude's methods. Seeing how well Lange and Quinto interacted with each other in season 1 often throwing spiteful and hilarious remarks - I can't wait.

Sarah Paulson, who was a medium in season 1 returns as a lesbian journalist committed to the Asylum by her own partner - who will be played by Clea Duvall. Lily Rabe, wife to the failed and now crazy surgeon in season 1 will be one of the nuns in season 2 and Evan Peters will this time be the hero of the story - young man who gets accused for being Bloody Face - this season's main antagonist, murderer who wears his victims skin on his face as a mask - after his wife disappears. Here's the twist though - Peters's character insists he didn't kill her. In fact, he claims his wife was abducted...by aliens.
New cast members include Joseph Fiennes as Monsignor who runs the asylum and is a target of sister Jude's dark desires and James Cromwell as seemingly peaceful doctor who experiments on his patients. And one of the patients - Shelly, nymphomaniac is going to be played by wonderful Chloe Sevigny. And the antagonists? In addition to Bloody Face we have Raspers - mutated humans who live in the forest that surrounds the asylum, possible demonic possession and aliens - definitely in characters' visions and maybe even for real.

Just like season 1, season 2 will be going back and forth - we will meet married couple who moves in the asylum (now turned into a house) in modern day and we will see flashbacks to the time when asylum was opened, hiding many horrors within.

Season 2 begins on F/X on October 17 and next Sunday we will see how many Emmy awards season 1 is going to get. Though I must say it would be shocking if Lange left the ceremony empty handed.
Check out the enigmatic and creepy teasers for season 2 - here.
RELATED POSTS:

22 comments:

  1. I kind of like the season 2 more than the first one based on the description and the teasers. I don't know.. I like the new characters and I'm glad some from season 1 will not return.. kmkh.. the family, so I will have the whole season filled with my favorite people!

    Can't wait. The only horror I can stand. Which is weird, I usually dislike horror a lot but not when it comes to AHS.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't like the family either, except for Violet but that's mostly thanks to Farmiga's performance. Season 2 sounds fantastic!

      Delete
  2. Great post. I had a bit of trouble getting properly into AHS, but ended up really enjoying it.
    I was one of the crazy teenage girls in love with Tate, but in my defence, psycho killer characters and I do have a history :P
    The absolute freakiest thing about season 1 for me was Tate impregnating the mom. Ghosts just should not do that.

    Can't wait for season 2. It looks all kinds of batshit crazy. Also Quinto+Lange magic! And Sevigny!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, no worries, no judging here! :) He was a very cool characters, though I never got why he raped the mother, it did seem extreme even for him.

      Yes, can't wait for all of those things either!

      Delete
  3. Darn, it looks like I'll have a add a new weekly commitment then. Hope to get my hands on the first season and finish it before the season 2 premiere. Thankfully it starts a little late where I live.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Season 1 is really good, though I have a feeling season 2 will be even better!

      Delete
  4. Sounds like an awesome show, but is it really scary? I mean.... does it creep you out, make you scream? Or is it like Supernatural scary? Because I'd love to watch something like that, a show that terrifies millions every week, ahah.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh it's definetly more hardcore than Supernatural...it made me jump few times and one time i couldn't even look at the screen.

      Delete
  5. I don't really watch Horror films or TV shows, but I do have some exceptions (Supernatural is one of them). I have season 1 of American Horror Story and I plan to see it...I just don't know when that will happen. Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey are also waiting in line....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh watch BB and DA first, but then definetly check out AHS! :)

      Delete
  6. I am surprisingly excited about the second season of this show. I really enjoyed the first season, though it took me until half way through to get into it.

    You're right - this show is a massive love letter to horror films. It's so sad to see that film genre in such disarray right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely, the only horror films that work nowadays are either homages or parodies. Every original idea is butchered in execution and we get nightmares like Unborn :/

      Delete
  7. I did 2 episodes and thought it was rubbish... but apparently it settles down... just didnt grab me at all

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 2nd episode was the weakest, so I'm not surprised! :)

      Delete
  8. I really need this second season to start already. The constant teasers on Facebook are actually starting to drive me a little crazy. I'm going to have to block that page from my newsfeed pretty soon...

    Loved this show. It's so unapologetic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too, I can't wait! Those teasers are so good and fascinating, I really think season 2 will be better than season 1.

      Delete
  9. I remember seeing the promos for this show and it definitely looked imaginative and freaky! Glad to hear the show itself lives up to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really does, if you ever want to see good new horror it's either this or The Cabin in the Woods, really there are no good horror movies lately other than those two :)

      Delete
  10. This is probably another one of those really good shows that I'll never see. At least I know it IS (apparently) good though. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a horror fan, but I just don't get to many TV shows. Plus, I don't actually watch many horror films, even though I like the genre.

      Delete
    2. Ah, I see - well, if you ever feel like checking out both good horror and good TV series, look no further! :)

      Delete