Thoughts on American Horror Story Asylum

According to WordPress, today is my one year anniversary. Wow. So let’s all celebrate with another review – that is still not Downton Abbey. Sorry. Still waiting for the Christmas special DVD, so hopefully the review will come next week. In the meantime, enjoy the horror (?) and beware of all the SPOILERS!

Thoughts on American Horror Story Asylum

I know, I haven’t written a review of American Horror Story. Not that the series wasn’t good. It just didn’t feel like it left me with any thoughts to add. Okay, the ending was confusing – was that child the devil and if so what happened to it – but I figured that was kind of the point of the whole thing. Which is what made Asylum even more confusing.

Admittedly, I found the series terrifying. When I had finished the Anne Frank two-parter, I was seriously considering abandoning the whole series just because it was so scary. It’s possible that my German school education added a whole layer of terror to it that wouldn’t be there for audiences from other countries. As much as Nazis are a staple of today’s crime, gore and horror entertainment industry, Asylum‘s way of including this part of history into its story was much more real and gruesome than, let’s say Inglorious Basterds. I should add that I had at one point in the distant past considered writing a CSI: NY spec script that would have featured a character who collected furniture made from human skin. But seeing such a prop in screen left a deeper impression on me than I had thought.

Naturally, I expected that Asylum would continue in that vein and introduce even more Nazi paraphernalia. Which is why I was pretty disappointed by the rest of the series, and I find it unbelievable that I’m actually saying this. Instead of further walking down the road of human experimenting, they went down the road of supernatural phenomena, including aliens, the devil, the angel of death, and resurrection.

I guess I wouldn’t have minded that either (American Horror Story had been on that road and it was great), but then the last three episodes went down yet another road and it all ended in a satisfying way?!

Okay, so Lana Winters escape Thredson/Bloody Face, is incarcerated and humiliated again, gets out because of Sister Jude, returns to being the ambitious journalist/writer she had always been, and  finally kills her and Thredson’s son? Kit Walker kills a, well, being, sees his girlfriend killed, gets drugged, gets out thanks to Lana, lives with two wives and two half-alien children, sees his wives die, takes care of Sister Jude, gets cancer and is again abducted by aliens? Written this way, it reads like a supernatural daily soap and you’re really wondering why none of them hasn’t gone crazy.

Unlike American Horror Story, I also don’t see any loose threads hanging at the end of Asylum. We know what happened to all of the main characters – except for Lana, all of them are dead (or with the aliens) – and the devil has been vanquished. I guess this is one point that kind of bugs me: the devil had no problem possessing Sister Mary Eunice, but when she was killed, it did not possess, let’s say Monsignor Howard? Why was it suddenly so easy to get rid of it?

So what is the message of the series? No one is completely bad or good? Don’t trust anyone but yourself? Electroshocks don’t alter your character? Look at how far we’ve come in treating mental illnesses? Not that American Horror Story had a message (or it did and I missed it), but somehow that didn’t really matter, because it had a story that just progressed at a stable pace. Asylum however sometimes felt like running then stumbling then stopping then running again.

Apparently, all installments of American Horror Story are connected, but so far I haven’t really seen a connection between the first two series (apart from some of the actors). Coven is up next on my list, we’ll see how it compares…


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