Monday, January 12, 2015

First Impressions: American Horror Story Freakshow

Four episodes into a series I figure I can begin to make some comments.  So lets talk about American Horror Story: Freakshow - and yes, I'm fully aware that for most people the season has just one episode left, but I saved up my episodes on the good ol' DVR and only started watching last Friday - that way I'll be finishing with the rest of you.

Taking place in 1952 Florida, the series departs a little from the previous seasons (each of which told their own story, but with a largely overlapping cast of actors), in that it has very little to do with the Supernatural - no haunted house from season one, or demonic possession from season two, and definitely no witchcraft from season three.  

Nope, what this season has is the sideshow, the carnival freakshow in the twilight years, after the second world war and therefore after a time when people had seen enough of the strange and deformed.  Clearly borrowing a lot from Todd Brownings Freaks, and maybe a little from both the HBO series Carnivale and Katherine Dunn's novel Geek Love (which is in itself excellent and well worth a post here someday), AHS:Freakshow mixes together a love of the different with some pretty interesting twists.

First of all, I absolutely love the opening credits.  Next to the credits from season one (which told a lot of the story of the season, if the viewer knew what they were looking for), it is quite clever, working with old toys, a carnival theme and a genius use of stop-motion animation. 

The stories are a lot of fun; disturbing and lurid, but fun, and the evil clown introduced in the pilot may be one of the creepiest looking villains I've come across in a while.

The series uses modern songs for it's musical numbers, which take a little getting used to, but can be fun (not quite up to the level of the Stevie Nicks numbers in season three, or my personal favourite, the bizarre, out of nowhere version of Shirley Ellis' 1964 classic The Name Game, used in Season Two).

I'll definitely be sticking with the season through the end - the story is intriguing, the characters interesting, and as a long term fan of horror film and literature, this is something definitely right up my alley.

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