Gimme Five: How American Horror Story Got Its Groove Back

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The FX network’s American Horror Story anthology began with the chilling Murder House series in 2011, but slowed considerably through its second season.

American Horror Story: Asylum lacked clear vision, as creator/producers Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy tried to cram too many things into one story. Aliens and demons? I’m sorry, but in my world of fantasy, these two things should not exist together. Perhaps predictably, Asylum was a muddled disappointment.

So how did American Horror Story rebound with the Coven series, which began in October? Let’s count the ways …

1: THE SUBJECT MATTER: Witches, bitches! American Horror Story can and just might do for witches what True Blood and Walking Dead did for vampires and zombies, respectively. The series seems to have picked up this story at a perfect time. Not only are there witches, but voodoo priestesses, witch hunters, and Frankenstein-esque frat boys, all mingling with magic in the perfect back drop of New Orleans.

2: THE CAST: Perfect casting — and I mean, perfect! Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates are the newest big names to join the American Horror Story miniseries. They are fantastic. Based on real people with a twist of fantasy, they bring to life a great adversarial relationship. Bates manages to make us disgusted by her, and at the same time sympathetic as the slave-torturing Madame Delphine LaLaurie. Meanwhile, Angela Bassett is equally captivating as the Louisiana Creole priestess, Marie Laveau. Now, throw in the usual suspects, such as the always fantastic Jessica Lang as the Supreme Witch, and Taissa Farmiga as the fledgling witch just getting her feet wet.

3: THE POWERS: The powers in the show are really cool, and really add to the atmosphere. Something else that makes the powers so interesting is that they are ever changing and growing. Witch Zoe is like a Succubus in that she kills anyone who penetrates her, while Jessica Lang has a soul-sucking kiss as well as a slew of other powers such as conjuring fire. Queenie is probably the coolest: She is a human voodoo doll and can hurt herself without hurting herself, transferring the pain and anguish to another. There is also a telepath, a seer, a necromancer of sorts, and probably a lot more yet to be revealed.

4: THE STORY: Unlike last season, American Horror Story: Coven feels like every plot line will intersect and transition perfectly with one another. They all feel like they are in the same world, same story, and same pathway to the final destination. There are multiple plot lines, but they all kind of work together in a way that the previous season didn’t.

5: THE HORROR, THE HORROR: I thought Asylum had the opportunity to capture the scares of the great first season, American Horror Story: Murder House, but as mentioned previously, it was too muddled. Coven, however, recaptures that old magic. It has a very eerie and dark undertone that kept me uneasy through each episode. Now, it’s not scary in the sense that something will pop out and make the audience jump. No! It’s better! It leaves you unsettled and creeped out … and begging for more.

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James Errigo

James Errigo

A Brooklyn native, Errigo writes about music, television and film from a varied interest base that includes everything from Led Zeppelin to Van Morrison, horror to comedy, Van Halen to Sam Cooke, Tarantino to Kubrick, and Joe Cocker to Disturbed. He started playing guitar at 13, joining a Nirvana cover band called Backwash not long after. Errigo later founded the Brooklyn group Goetia. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
James Errigo
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