American Horror Story has an interesting premise. Each season is it’s own stand alone arc. There are a group of actors who return from season to season playing different roles and characters, like an acting troupe. The second ingredient takes different horror tropes and mashing them together. The first part works wonderfully, allowing the actors to play different ranges, exploring new roles and showing their strengths. The latter works to varying degrees.
The second season of AHS is subtitled Asylum, with the bulk of the story taking place in a 1960’s mental asylum. This was an interesting enough premise to engage me. From there they added demon possession, crazed serial killers, Nazi scientist war criminal, and alien abduction. It all seemed like a bit much with one or two parts not mixing well with the others.
The first season followed a family who unwittingly bought a residence known as ‘the murder house.’ Every tenant who lived there died, and their ghosts still haunted the grounds. Many other themes of murder and suicide were constantly used throughout the episodes. I wasn’t particularly interested at first. The story was a little uninspired and the characters unrelatable. One major plot twist around episode 8-9 changed this for me. Now I was invested, at least for this season.
Season 2 suffered from many of the same problems, only now more so. It tried to accomplish too much at once. The elements were all over the place, with a few not even given satisfying conclusions in the end. We never learn if there really were aliens, their motivations, or anything about them really. One character was possessed by a demon in episode 2, only to be killed in episode 10. Why was she possessed? Did anyone else notice she was possessed? No real resolution or purpose.
What I suppose was the main story line with the characters of Lana, Jude, and Kit were brought full circle by the end. We learned of their fates and what became of them. I did like Sister Jude’s story arc. She started the season as the head of the Briar Cliff Institution, only to be imprisoned there herself for trying to expose the corruption. Driven made from confinement, her death was faked and her name changed, as though she never existed at all. This was something I really enjoyed and wanted to see more of, or more stories like it, playing up the Asylum angle. The addition of the extraneous elements of the Nazi scientist and alien abduction took away valuable screen time from the more interesting elements. These could have easily been removed as they were superfluous to begin with.
American Horror Story is a show that either immediately interests you or doesn’t. I’ll check out next season, but it will need to sell itself quicker than the previous two did.
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