With this season, AHS confirms itself as a true innovator in the horror genre and as superior TV. Four more cast members bite the dust in gory fashion, with two more being either wounded or cured as meat for the original Polk family. Two of the survivors are force-fed said meat. “I’m not used to all this carnage”, laments Audrey Tindall (Sarah Paulson) at some point, and even though we are, at least onscreen, we both laugh at the incongruity of the statement while wondering how the current madness and mayhem can sustain three more episodes. By now, 75% of the cast has been killed, but there is no sign of any slowing down. Episode 7 is fast and furious; it’s also the funniest so far, if only for the recurring bleeped curse words.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that in spite of the 75 cameras installed in the house the skeleton directing crew meets a prompt demise, as they have no idea what they’re up against. There’s only time for the proverbial “Did you get this?” before they all, well, get it. Bipolar Mary Agnes Winstead (Kathy Bates) is on a rampage, and she goes on chewing up her scenes with the lightness of touch of her beloved meat cleaver. She now speaks in tongues and perform self surgery after being shot. It’s like she is auditionning for the part of the Blair Witch but alas, as glorious as she is in the role, she’s not The Butcher, and her meeting with her idol puts an end to her career. She has a brilliant last line, which is both hilarious in its mundanity and, when you give it some thought, deeply disturbing. AHS doesn’t look at reality TV and found footage kindly; in fact this is the first season of the series to approach its subject matter with such meanness. There is nothing of the tenderness towards ordinary people, mental patients, persecuted witches, freaks or addicts that permeated the previous seasons.
Considering, Dominic Banks (Cuga Gooding Jr), might well end the one survivor as he’s tasked by production to be the villain of the piece. Unaware that no one is behind the camera anymore and that the show will never air, he only has ratings in mind and keeps on corroding Matt and Shelby’s relationship, implying that his short-lived affair with her was scripted by production. The irony of having an Academy Award™ winner gloating about screen time in a TV reality confessional is not lost on any mean-spirited viewer, and you need to be at least a bit mean to enjoy the series anyway. It also makes one wonder, what if more reality TV was that talently written?
And it goes on and on, making most horror movies exhaustingly churned by Hollywood look, sound and feel so politically correct, so last century. There is the scene of the three damzels in distress shakenly brandishing their smart phone at each other in the darkness of the woods. There is the revelation of the true reason why reluctant Matt joined the show, immediatly followed by an outrageous head-bashing, then by the most incongrous “Please, let me have the crowbar”. There is, of course, the most effective spoof ever of the most spoofed-to-death Blair Witch scene. How could have they missed that one.
By their own admission, the AHS cast is like a repertoire troup now. The eagerness with which they kill, torture or even eat bits of each other elicit giggles; it is what allows the series to remain tongue-in-cheek at its darkest moment. Their is a feeling of companionship even though they gleefully eviscerate or castrate their fellow cast members. For this, the series is never sordid or guilty of what this season stands against: it’s Grand Guignol of the first order.
Oh Reason, where are thou? We have three more episodes to watch and the suspicion that nothing is yet what it really is. Three more layers to be peeled from the onion, with the expected tears to go with it…