Archive for January, 2012

American Horror Story – the darkest of sensual dramas

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If there is one of the new shows that came out that stands out it’s this one, my god did it grab me from the beginning and didn’t let go. This amazing piece of TV is from the awesome Ryan Murphy who gave me one of my all-time fav drama’s Nip/tuck and my fav comedy drama Glee. Yes this is a writer director of mixed tastes and has been able to appeal to both sides of mine. I love a dark and disturbing drama, full of violence, sexuality, menace and controversy but I also love a big bright camp spectacle and Murphy has given me both those. So when I found out he was doing a new show going back to his dark ideas and twisted worlds I was very excited. Also horror is one of my fav genres in fact horror is my fav genre and there aren’t enough shows that really get to grips with its true potential. Were lucky we are in an era of great horror TV such as Dexter, Walking Dead and True Blood an era that isn’t afraid to make TV shows for adults that really expose the darkness inside of us, not supernatural drama’s for teens but true horror. The dark desires and wishes of humanity, shows that push the boundaries and expose us to controversial sights and sounds that takes thing we all think about but because of our sense of morals and ethic know are wrong and therefore enjoy watching others get exposed to and cross the lines we can never. Horrors that take our insecurities and play on them, making a terrifying life events like a family death even more horrifying by bringing in a supernatural element. I digress American horror story is a modern embodiment of our dark desires run amok, out onto screen for us to witness and revel in while exposing our fears and appetites for the macabre. The plot for AHS follows the Harmon family: Ben (Dylan McDermott), Vivien (Connie Britton) and Violet (Taissa Farmiga), who move from Boston to Los Angeles after Vivien gives birth to a stillborn baby and Ben has an affair with Hayden (Kate Mara), one of his students. The family moves to a restored mansion, unaware that the house is haunted. The house also ‘comes with’ Moira O’Hara (Frances Conroy/Alexandra Breckenridge), a housekeeper who, to men, appears as young and seductive, but, to women, old and matronly. Ben and Vivien try to rekindle their relationship as Violet, suffering from depression, finds comfort with Tate Langdon (Evan Peters), one of Ben’s new patients. Constance (Jessica Lange) and Larry Harvey (Denis O’Hare) routinely and frequently affect the Harmons’ lives.

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AHS is like watching the old 1970’s haunted house films, a house of secrets and sinister intensions like that of Amityville. A house of old and daunting architecture making it seem sort of out of touch with its own time period setting to further alienate the family living within from the world outside. The house has so much character that it itself is a character on its own and it’s fighting for dominance. There’s a mythology in japan that when someone dies it’s not just their ghost that can stay behind to haunt but also the ghost of the emotions born from their death. In other words if someone dies in a brutal and horrific way full of pain, regret and anger its these feelings that are left behind to haunt a place rather than the ghost of a person. This is what this house is like all the brutality and horror that it has seen has been absorbed as part of its own will giving it a conscience of itself a conscience that wants to cause more harm and continue the violent cycle within it feeding the darkness and misery within. The house only knows negative feelings and it lives for these dark desires and brutal endings, all it knows is what it’s feed off and that’s the darkness within humanity and negative emotion. Thus in order to keep living to grow and involve past its inanimate bonds it preys on the darkness within people promoting madness and violence so it can continue to feed and grow. In other words it’s a force born of evil, which only knows evil, wishes for evil and consumes evil only to create a cycle of evil for anyone who steps through its doors.

Every person who has stepped into this house has had their insecurities, pain and suffering exposed forcing them to face their fears and ultimately be driven made by those fears until a tragic and violent conclusion unfolds. This house has more ghosts than you could ever imagine and each has a tragic story to tell. As the episodes unravel you find out more about the various ghosts who they died and why they do what they do in death. Each character has their burden to bear and there is not a soul in this house that is without misfortune and sorrow. For example there is the tragic tale of Chad Warwick (Zachary Quinto) he put his heart and soul into the house making it a place to live in with his boyfriend, they were planning on adopting a baby and living a happy life. But the more he obsessed with the house and its decorating the more he alienated his boyfriend who began to stray and instead work on his relationship seek the attention he craved with another man. Before the two men ever had a chance to work out what was happening between them the house and its ghost saw they were drifting apart and saw fit to have them killed. Chad was murdered by one of the ghosts and his boyfriend brutally assaulted and killed made to look like a murder suicide. As ghosts they are trapped in a domed relationship, Chad wants to look after the house and dreams of children but has to face the reality that his boyfriend was about to leave him and he is stuck in a nightmare with a man that doesn’t love him only to watch his love go after any man but him in his need to escape chad’s obsession with a perfect life that neither can ever have.
American Horror Story Poster
There are so many ghosts in the house and half the brilliance of this show is trying to work out who is a ghost and who isn’t, which ghosts are in alliances, what are their own agendas and goals and how they came to be trapped in this possessive house. Some of the more terrifying ghosts are that of a gimp suited rapist, a pair of creepy ginger twins, some kind of deformed offspring lurking in the basement. What was brilliant about this show was that it gets under your skin and began to frighten even me. Now I’m a horror connoisseur I raised myself on a diet of Asian horror films like Ringu and Ju-on with dark thrillers like Silence of the Lambs. I’m no wuss, not easily scared and don’t shy away from violence and controversial viewing material. But AHS tested even me it has the unique ability to get under your skin to find the things that creep you out and wear down your defences until you are left feeling paranoid and unsettled. It’s a powerful drama it knows how to tackle the darkness inside us and at the same time make you feel very uncomfortable. It began to give me nightmares and I had to stop watching it at night. Once I started to settle with it and it finally started to explain its plot I was able to continue evening viewing but god did this show creep me out. Even the opening sequence with is surreal and disturbing images with the most unsettle score ever totally got under my skin. I had never seen an opening scene where they uses such harsh and disconcerting sounds to distress you mixed with images so unnatural you can’t help but feel scared and freaked out.
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The filming is also beautiful such sensual sights, beautiful dreams and grand aesthetics make for a mix of pure pleasure and horror. Moira is a great example, she appears to men as a beautiful and seductive temptress, a gorgeous red head who can make men’s fantasies come to life and is a walking vision of sexual desire but to women she is a scorned old women who wants to mother and nurture them, protect them from the predatory and infidelity nature of men and expose men’s bestial needs. She drips lust and seduction and at the same time warns just what men are like when exposed to the desire inside them and their weakness towards such a woman. While the show looks out of place in this timeline because of the house and its imposing manner that clings to its own history it does delve into all the modern concern of our reality. It has modern issues such as a gay couple, having children once you’re in your 40’s and loss of innocence of childhood as younger girls are exposed to the expectations of the modern day. It also has a brilliant concept on the pressure on youth and how their insecurities created by the modern world can drive them mad, a madness that seems to have no explanation but can create a child that is a beautiful monster, for all their tender loving nature they are missing a part of their own humanity and can do unspeakable evil with no regret simple because they can and nothing can redeem them not even love. It’s this lack of sentimentality that I love, love doesn’t save the day you do evil and there isn’t redemption but the knowledge that even your most beautiful and heart felt acts cant wash your soul clean and once your born a monster without the same morals of socially functioning humans you stay a monster.
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What else can I say about this brilliant series, it looks good, it sounds good, it unsettles and terrifies, it delights and seduces, it exposes darkness and it exploits darkness and it enthrals and captures you. It is a must see who and I for one can’t wait for another season.

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