Cast: Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Angela Basset, Kathy Bates et al.
It is once again time to delve into the dark recesses of horror that is American Horror Story, a show that really has pushed the envelope when it comes to what you can expect from a TV show. At least that was expected when the third season, titled Coven, rolled around. Where season one, these days known as Murder House, and Asylum did everything it could to shock and disgust the third installment fell tragically short. This would seemingly put the expectations of season four, Freakshow, quite low.
Murder House and Asylum felt fresh and sent shivers down the viewers spine whereas Coven promised to do so initially, but couldn’t keep it up. Maybe it was the modern setting, maybe it was the fact that there were several different parallel story lines going on that just seemed to go nowhere, or maybe it was that one got the feeling that the show just didn’t take the narrative very seriously. Granted, Asylum has its flaws as well, suffering from unexplained alien phenomena that also just petered out.
One gets the feeling that American Horror Story is somewhat at a crossroads; they continue on the path begun at the end of Asylum and fully followed through Coven or they go back around to follow Murder House and get back on track.
The idea of a Freak show in the American Heartland in the sixties is a great beginning, there is a lot of mystery and macabre things that can happen and anything set in the sixties or earlier is long enough ago to make everything a bit eery, it just something with that time, as if it the border between old superstition and modern science.
In the sleepy town of Jupiter the murder of an elderly farm woman is discovered, at the same time it is also revealed that she has been hiding a set of grown Siamese twins Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson) who also seems to be injured. At the hospital the twins are approached by Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) a German immigrant who runs a carnival on the outskirts of Jupiter. Seeing an opportunity to save her failing business and claiming to know that Dot and Bette murdered their mother Mars convinces them to join her freak show.
At the same time a hideous looking clown is murdering innocent people all over the town, making folks believe that whoever killed Bette and Dot’s mother is also behind the other killings, causing a detective to seek out the carnival looking for the twins.
The Freak show is inhabited by colorful oddities, played by the same cast as always; a bearded lady (Kathy Bates), flipper boy (Evan Peters) who also moonlights as some form of sex toy for lonely housewives and so on.
Much like the other American Horror Story seasons Freakshow jumps to shock directly and hopefully it can keep that momentum and keep the horror going until the end of the season. There is much to use in this story and hopefully the creators of the show have looked in the direction of Carnivale to get some inspiration. Whatever relation the murder clown has to the show it must be fairly creepy.
As always AHS sets the season up great and hopefully this time it will pan out and become really scary. The season premier makes big promises and a recommended watch.