Posts Tagged ‘American horror story’

Bedlam – a surprisingly good and creepy little drama from Sky living UK

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I only just got round to watching this series and like many British shows it was only 6 eps so finished it in 2 evenings. I remembered the trailers when they were on and how creepy and inviting they looked, truly gripped my interest and were very well made so it’s good to finally see if the show lived up to the imagery of the trailers. This series joins my collection of creepy supernatural shows like American Horror Story as I love relocating the haunting genre to families and social groups and seeing the worlds of supernatural versus insanity and thrillers verses normal human lives combine. As also a brit i love british dramas and this one is as good as some of the other supernatural shows I’ve watched over the years such as Being Human and Hex. The series focuses on an upscale apartment block called ‘Bedlam Heights’, renovated from the structure of an abandoned mental asylum, and the strange hauntings that occur there. New arrival Jed Harper (Theo James) possesses the ability to see the ghosts, which are generally not visible to others, and receives visions of their deaths. The hauntings are generally malevolent, and it is up to Jed to determine the spirits’ motives and thwart their goals. His flatmates are his cousin, Kate (Charlotte Salt), who manages the complex; Ryan (Will Young) who is troubled by the recent violent death of his brother; and Molly (Ashley Madekwe), a childhood friend of Kate and Jed.
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The show was better than I thought it would be didn’t think 6 eps was enough to flesh out the characters and the world they inhabit but by the end of the first ep you know your character types and motives. Jed is a reluctant hero type plagued by his demons and life spent in and out of mental asylums because of people not believing in his ability to see ghosts. He’s all broody most of the time and every time he gets a chance to step into the light and have a better life something conspires against him to make him miserable again. The show does at least try to find ways to show underneath his sadness and loneliness he is a good kind man that actually cares greatly for people and if it wasn’t for his fate as a ghost seeing mystery solving outcast he would have been a regular fun guy. The only thing I didn’t like about the characters is that they could never make up their mind who they fancied or liked, I’m not a romantic so nothing bores me more than love interests and love triangles when there are much more interesting things going on like dead people stalking you. So the fact that every episode someone would fancy someone else and in the case of Ryan’s character couldn’t decide if he was gay or straight did get on my nerves. As for the 2 girls Molly is a pleasant girl and I feel bad for the way she is sometimes treated and by the end I understand why she left the way she did I would have to get out of a place like that. As for Kate I hated her she’s the kind of girl I just can’t stand, playing men for her own gain, vain and selfish there is little to like about her and I found it hard to feel sorry for her when she was getting haunted and plagued by horrible visions and nightmares.
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But away from the characters the show has a good atmosphere and it mixes traditional supernatural story telling with modern young adults just trying to live their lives. Another extra idea in the mix is that by living in a converted asylum are the people themselves being infected by the madness that once ran rampant here. Kate’s dreams and visions put her more and more on edge that you could question her own sanity, does insanity breed insanity, is it the environment that changes a person and inspires dark acts or was it always in the nature of that person to lose touch and do evil acts. This is reflected as you find out more about the background of the asylum and its inmates some of the original occupants where put in their not because they truly deserved to be but because it was convenient to those who they had offended. For example a serving girl who got pregnant by her master, instead of owning up to the affair has her thrown into Bedlam to have the baby causing her to go mad with grief and then she is lobotomised to silence her covering up the conspiracy. It isn’t surprising Bedlam has so many angry ghosts and it defiantly holds with the lore that those that die violent and unfulfilled deaths are imprisoned on earth not allowed to move on till they find justice or a conclusion that makes them satisfied. The ghosts of Bedlam are more than restless they are full of hate and evil now that their cells are the homes of happy families, couples and people they want to make sure these inhabitants feel the pain and sorrow they feel.
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The series is stylishly done though as a horror nerd it wasn’t creepy enough to scare me but it has great potential to actually be very scary. The ghosts fade in and out, watch from secluded corners and stalk characters vigorously. The ghosts leave creepy messages sketched onto walls, petals scattered on floors and horrific drawings on children’s bedrooms. The show is well filmed part surreal in its imagery and harsh in it open portrayal of hauntings, Jed’s visions are chaotic and violent, Kate’s dreams bright and harsh but terrifying. The show had a decent budget behind it so it looks realistic and a very artistic side as well, Kate drowning in the bath tub sinking further into an abyss, a dark pool of water waiting for someone to break the surface and reach far enough inside to reach her. This also reflects her as a character, her shell of vanity and cruelty hides the fact she is lost and scarred, living up to the pressures of her father, scarred of her feelings and not wanting to get close to people causing her to drown in her own self-imposed pit. Kate’s dreams are one of the most disturbing scenes of the series, she is lost and alone wearing nothing but her nightdress, running the corridors of Bedlam that she should know but somehow are unfamiliar to her and are cold and empty. These scenes are filmed very brightly and slowly she realised she’s not alone but a body of a woman wearing a cloth bag over her head is lying in wait for her causing her more grief and unsettling us in these surreal images.
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It is a shame that after 6 eps the series wasn’t renewed as there was so much more to tell and the story was not finished but for a good little supernatural series this is very much worth it.

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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.
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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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