It’s really hard not to scare me. Horror movies and stories are my crutch, I am lured in by them but terrified by them all the same. That being said, shouldn’t something called American Horror Story scare me, just a little? Sure Twisty the Clown gives a good scare, but they utilize him the least. Instead I find myself rolling my eyes at every new scene that continues to display that the AHS team needs some new writers and story lines. I can’t speak for the whole season, but this first episode of season 4 is not only disappointing, but pushing me to quit the show for this season.
Below there are spoilers, beware!
7. Horrible, horrible accents
I don’t think this is an unpopular opinion. Jessica Lange’s German accent grates the way a bad Southern accent from a non-US production does. Kathy Bates, the great actress she is, sports an unidentifiable accent. Thankfully it seems only these two have been tacked with horrible voices, but they are also the main characters, so we’ll have to suffer through a whole season of it. Oh, and Lange sings.
6. Less freaks, too much Jessica Lange
I’m not quiet about my dislike of Jessica Lange. I’m sure as a person, and an actress outside of AHS she’s great, but as a part of the show? She’s a regurgitated character that spends more time hearing her own voice than acting. Maybe those Emmys are getting to Ryan Murphy’s head, but this is not good writing. A show deemed Freakshow should center 100% around the said ‘freaks’, not a relatively average self-absorbed old woman who wants to be a starlet. Her and her cliché’d storyline can go back to the hole from whence they were birthed.
5. Sexual, not scary
I knew when they revealed the title theme that this show would be less scary and more sexual. AHS has relied on sex selling their show before. From whore-nuns to death-by-vagina, they throw around sex to sell their show off and I’m not buying. Contemporary horror is known to have a touch of sensuality, but this is a hard hitting punch in the face. I want psychological terror, I want fear without some kink in the background. I doubt I’ll get it, but it’s really starting to get old.
4. Cheap and callous plot devices
I am sick to death of using rape as a cheap plot device to move a story forward. The subject alone makes me uncomfortable, because it is rarely not used in a titillating manner. It should impact you, it shouldn’t be thrown in as a way to band-aid plots. Throughout the seasons, it has been used in a worse way each season. Last season it was Madison being gang raped and Zoe murdering someone with rape, the one before that it was Lana at the hands of Bloody Face and the Monsignor, the one before that it was Vivien by Tate. Each time it is more titillation than purpose. Also, calling the girl a “monster” after blackmailing her with a video of her own rape is a disturbing message for a character that is not only a main character but one that is adored in the writing room.
3. Underusing Twisty
I will give them this, Twisty is perfectly terrifying. I’m not even scared of clowns, and I was covering my eyes at some scenes. The sad thing is, instead of centering a story around Twisty, we get brief clips of him stabbing endlessly into someone and then it’s back to Lange and the Gang. Instead of later giving him just one episode of story, and some gimmick for the rest of the season, how about he kills Elsa and we get him as the main character? Two birds, one stone.
Like I said before, this show is getting more and more offensive. Yes, yes, you’re going to say “this is suppose to be offensive. It’s horror! Someone will always be offended.” No. I give artistic license a good perimeter. Offensive can sometimes illustrate a point that it couldn’t in real life. But when you are tossing around words like freak and monster over and over again, it’s either the heaviest handed of plots or just offensive, or both? An episode of TV shouldn’t make me frown this much, and yet this one did. Not a frown of “oh my god, I wonder what is behind that door”, but rather a frown of “really? They let this pass?”
1. Overused two-dimensional character roles
The only way to solve this problem is to recast. Recast soon, or even better right now. Have Twisty kill off Bette and Dot, Elsa, Jimmy, and Gloria and every other star that’s been around for more than two seasons. I don’t know if it’s the poor writing (I’m guessing it is) or the poor acting (it’s some of that too), but doesn’t it feel like these people are playing the same characters over and over again? Jimmy is the charming boy who is murderous. Elsa is the old blonde who craves fame. The tropes feel reused and uninspiring. Stop making a woman either a conniving bitch or a simple flower. Stop making guys murderous rapists or perverted mama’s boys.
The problem with the opening episode is that it fails to show us anything new. It gives us the same old tone as it did before, making me believe it will be more ridiculous and outrageous, than scary. If Alfred Hitchcock can make something as simple as birds terrify me, then you should be able to do something great with the clowns. Drop the antics and the sexually charged storylines. Simplify. The more you tack on the tackier it gets.
It remains to be seen if I will continue this season, but so far, I am bored and I wish that the tone of the promotional trailers resounded more clearly in the execution of the show.