Opening another sinister chapter to the “American Horror Story,” season two of the hit FX show has opted to deviate from their original haunted house set for a change in scenery — an insane asylum.
Set primarily in Briarcliff Manor, a mental institution for the criminally insane, there are familiar faces from season one but also an entirely new horror story and maze with new rules to learn. In the premiere, Maroon 5 cover boy, Adam Levine, drew in viewers with the backstory of the asylum — the home of “Bloody Face.”
After fulgurant sex scenes and a bloody encounter, the show flashes back decades earlier to the 1960s, where the asylum is overrun by the criminally insane and there are nuns galore. Owned by the Catholic Church, the harsh religious context of the hospital merely sits on the back burner as none of the characters prove to be saintly.
The tyrannical Sister Jude, played by season one actress Jessica Lange, opens the doors to the asylum’s next victims, but as the season progresses, we learn that she is the least of the prisoners’ worries. Inside the walls of the asylum lie murderers, baby-killers, sadists and a doctor that would make Dr. Mengele look like the Easter Bunny.
Amidst the overarching storylines of terrifying horror and mystery, there are subtle glimpses into the realistically terrifying persecution of those who were considered to be mentally defective in the 1960s — the mentally retarded, criminally insane and even homosexuals. There is electroshock therapy to cure the gay; experiments/lobotomies to discover the source of the criminally insane; and harsh discipline for the mentally retarded.
Kicking off the season with flashes of gore, whores, sex and borderline sacrilege, the show has proven in its first few moments to not be for the faint of heart. But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t tune in.
Knowing something about how to create an instant occult classic, “Glee”-ful series co-creator Ryan Murphy has drawn in the masses by utilizing every occult/scary movie favorite in his arsenal.
But just because it has all of the essential ingredients doesn’t necessarily make it a classic yet. Some of the topics into which the show delves, namely the alien abduction, seem a bit cliché to work perfectly.
It’s important to take note that just because you have everything you could possibly want on your plate doesn’t make it a delicious meal — think bacon, sardine, ice cream. It takes the mastery of a chef to bring together the ingredients in harmony, with moderation and a tasteful palette that can discern between too much and too little of every ingredient.
The laundry list of award-winning actors involved in the project speaks for itself, but the performances are out of this world. Blending terror, sex, insanity and the sordid details of their pasts, the actors are able to fully embody the darkest depths of the human soul as they recreate a shockingly realistic account of the 1960s asylum.
With so much left to unravel this season, alongside the list of famous actors, “American Horror Story: Asylum” still has so much to offer. But even in its first glimpses, it’s brought chills straight to the bone. But we still have to wait to see if the clichéd lines of alien abduction and sordid pasts can find some substance in the wake of so many other storylines.
Rating: 4 out of 5