I was a bit late getting on board with American Horror Story, not because I didn’t want to watch it but because I just have so much stuff to watch, but a few weeks ago I got to the end of its second season. From the creators of Glee (I know, right, wtf?) AHS has taken the form of an anthology series meaning that each season it’s own premise, storyline and characters, although some of the actors remain in the cast. Season one which has since been named ‘Murder House’ told the story of a family as they move into a new house with a strange recurring history of murders. And season two which is named ‘Asylum’ takes us on a journey through a mental asylum mainly set in 1964. It’s been a hit show for FX and its ratings have been solid throughout with a third season titled ‘Coven’ due to air from October.
From the off AHS throws everything its got it. In both seasons you are bombarded with different horror conventions with the show having used about every well-known element of the genre within it’s first episode. What I found with both seasons is that while their first halves were incredibly intriguing hurling a huge amount of action at you and setting up some complex mysteries that need to be solved as they go on the scare factor drops drastically as the writers are rushing for an explanation for everything that’s happened and neither season has a very satisfactory summary. Particularly in Asylum which I found left a large amount of questions unanswered. In Murder House everything is explained, from what I can remember, but it’s explanation is really just a bit of a cop out making the whole mystery of the season seem like not much of a mystery in the first place. Despite this there’s still something keeping me involved with the show, I’ll definitely be watching season three as it comes out and I think the reason is that this whole premise is brimming with potential. While its story arcs are somewhat lacking in intelligence there is a lot AHS does right. One of the best factors of the show is its casting with the recurring cast members, particularly Zachary Quinto, Jessica Lange and Evan Peters who play lead characters in both seasons, delivering fantastic performances and showing their diversity by playing very different parts. Also exemplary is the artistic direction of the episodes it’s clear a lot of though has gone into making this show just look really cool, with effective artistic shots and top quality editing making the show fun to watch even if its plots aren’t up to scratch.
While its first two seasons don’t fully deliver on the promise of their first episodes AHS is a show that has the potential to be the definitive tv horror programme, all it needs to do is come up with an idea that stays scary for thirteen episodes and doesn’t get so complicated that it can’t be fully explained. Easier said than done I guess but hopefully the shows writers will get there with Coven.