American Horror Story Asylum Premiere: Season 2 Review


I am going to go out a limb and say that this is season of American Horror Story is scarier than the first — so much scarier. While the first season of the 17 Emmy-nominated miniseries was set in the one place where you expect to be safe — your home — this season we're going insane in an asylum. A mid-1900 mental hospital is not going to be fun or safe. I love scary movies/roller coasters/books etc, but this is not a TV show for the faint of heart. It should come with a glaring warning label: DO NOT WATCH ALONE LATE AT NIGHT OR YOU WILL CRY. But buck up friends, grab some big kid pants, and be prepared for FX to scare the crazy out of you!

The premier starts off with newlyweds Leo (Adam Levine) and Theresa (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) stopping off at Briarcliff in the midst of their (supposedly) haunted places in America tour. After things get off to a good start and begin to heat up, they quickly turn sour. The two wind up facing the institution’s most endearing legend the deranged serial killer, Bloody Face.

Then the series really begins and we go back in time to meet all the players. The core of American Horror Story: Asylum is Kit Walker (Evan Peters), who’s accused of being the uncreatively named serial killer Bloody Face, but insists he’s innocent because, obviously, extraterrestrials were the perps. The other key characters are Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), a reporter attempting to investigate the asylum’s shady practices by pretending to write a feature story about its bakery; Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell), the possibly evil man of medicine whose unabashed commitment to science clashes with Sister Jude’s faith; Shelly the nymphomaniac (Chloe Sevigny) who is exactly what her character’s name implies; and, of course, the aforementioned Sister Jude, who believes “mental illness is the fashionable explanation for sin,” yet also secretly wears racy negligees underneath those holy robes. 

This is a lot to process, and we haven't met Zachary Quinto's character yet (next week), and I can guarantee we aren't going to get a lot of down time in this series. Just like the first, AHS is cramming jump-out scares, gore, racy images, and now social commentary. Being subtle and thoughtful is overrated, and not nearly as much fun.

In season one, the main dynamic was a dysfunctional family trying to figure out to work as a unit. This season focuses on the issues that arise at the workplace. Each character is now an individual, that must wade his way through a hostile environment.

As I mentioned before this season promises commentary on issues such as interracial relationships, homosexuality, reason vs. faith, and others. It is still uncertain how these side notions will work themselves coherently into a series. A concern is that this added element will distract from what the show does really well-like the individual's interactions with other and himself. This extra add-on may be a result of ambitious writing and not a practical grasp of what works.

Regardless, Asylum is going to be a ride — an hour long excursion into a dark and crazy place. With only a season to explore a serial killer, nympho, dictatorial nun and many other characters. there won't be time to rest. Tune in Wednesdays at 10pm on FX for more of their sordid tales. It's good to be scared every once in a while.