TV Review: American Horror Story: Asylum

ann hale enters the asylum…

American Horror Story Asylum, season two of American Horror Story takes place at Briarcliff Manor, an old tuberculosis hospital turned mental asylum for the criminally insane. It is revealed that over 26,000 people lost their lives there in the years of its business. Listed as one of the most haunted places in America, Briarcliff holds inside more than anyone could possibly imagine.

Episode One, Welcome to Briarcliff, begins with a shock, much in the style of season one. A young newlywed couple, Leo (Adam Levine of Maroon 5) and Teresa (Jenna Dewan-Tatum), are on their honeymoon visiting the twelve most haunted places in America. Their last stop is the Briarcliff Manor. As newlyweds are, the couple is sex-crazed and determined to break in the institution with a little action but they are interrupted by a loud banging noise coming from inside a locked room. Being a horror freak, Teresa is curious about the noise and forces Leo to investigate. When he reaches his arm inside to take a photo with his phone, it is ripped off by an unknown being.

We are then taken into the past to the asylum in its prime. The inhabitants include pinheads, sex fiends, murderers, and invalids. While Teresa tries to find a way out of the asylum to get help for Leo, we are introduced to the questionable secrets held within its walls.

And the institution has plenty of secrets. There are creatures in the woods that they must feed with raw meat at night to keep them at bay. There is a doctor performing deadly tests on patients. The head nun is having sexual thoughts of her Monsignor. Innocent people are held inside, accused of crimes they didn’t commit.

Now to introduce you to the cast of Season Two thus far:

Joseph Fiennes is Monsignor Howard. He is the head of the institution. All plans go through him.

Next in line is Sister Jude played by Jessica Lange who won numerous awards for her role as Constance Langdon in season one. She is the tough, no nonsense head nun keeping the patients in line. She is in charge of dishing out punishment, which she does not hesitate to do with her closet full of switches.

Then there is Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe), a weak nun who is herself a little mentally disturbed. Her self-esteem is shot, probably due to Sister Jude and the way she treats her.

Evan Peters, who played Tate in season one, plays Kit, a local gas station attendant who has married a black woman in secret. He is the victim of alien abduction but when is wife is found dead, he is sent to Briarcliff, accused of being the local serial killer Bloody Face, who skins women and wears their faces.

Sarah Paulson, who played psychic Billie Dean Howard in season one, plays Lana Winters, a lesbian reporter who wants the story of Bloody Face to further her career. When she weasels her way into the institution at night she suffers an injury at the hand of a patient. Sister Jude locks her inside to “cure” her of her homosexuality and to give her the view of the mental ward that she wanted so desperately.

Clea Duvall is her girlfriend, Wendy, a teacher. She is forced to sign commitment papers for Lana in exchange for Jude’s silence about their relationship, which would ruin their lives and careers.

Lizzie Brochere is Grace, who has been admitted for murdering and dismembering her entire family. She claims to be innocent of the entire ordeal and her friendly disposition seems to be showing that she is telling the truth though she may have something to hide.

James Cromwell is Dr. Arden who is performing experimental tests on patients with deadly results. He gets rid of the proof through cremation. He has a secret room with long deep scratch marks on the walls, which he probably uses as a torture room and it is revealed that this room is the one that Leo reaches into and loses his arm as a result. This proves there is obviously something more sinister about Dr. Arden than they are letting on and Sister Jude doesn’t trust him anyway.

Chloe Sevigny is Shelley, a nymphomaniac, bent on sleeping with Kit and every other man who pays her any attention. Sister Jude shaves part of her head as punishment and to help make her less attractive to men.

I was a massive fan of season one of American Horror Story. Every single episode freaked me out and that isn’t something that is exactly easy to do. Sure, now and then there will be a movie that gets me but for a television show to do so and to do it week after week…well, that’s never happened. American Horror Story Asylum has the potential to continue that trend.

This first episode was a bit on the slow side. I’ve been more scared by some of Kurt’s outfits on Glee than I was at this episode. However, they obviously wanted to push the stories of their characters through first before really getting down and dirty with it.

Jessica Lange is already proving to be as important to season two as she was in season one. Her character is a stern religious fanatic, hating homosexuals and sparing no rod to spoil the child. There is something darker to her character than they are letting us in on but I have no doubt that she is looking at another Emmy.

As I said before, there is plenty of potential here and I have no doubts whatsoever that they will pull out all of the stops to make this season as intense and frightening as possible. They have plenty to work with to do so. After all, what place is scarier than a mental asylum?

Tune into American Horror Story Asylum on Wednesday nights at 10pm on FX.

Just a giant nerd in love with horror, 80's action flicks, Star Wars and Harry Potter. Hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @scarletjupiter to talk horror or just to browse the horror collection.

1 COMMENT

  1. I love your recap of the first episode: very informative and thorough. The promos that FX was airing prior to the show were very creep, much like season one. It really does seem like there is going to be some very disturbing stuff going on with all of these conflicted characters. I’ve got my Hopper timer set to record each new episode and with 2,000 hours of recording time I don’t have to rush. I’m glad to see that Jessica Lange is back because she really made the show and I’m sure Evan Peters will bring more twisted thoughts to the show. My DISH co-worker is really excited about Adam Levine and I think it’s cool that he is branching out. I’ve never seen him act so this should be very interesting.

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