Wednesday, 25 February 2015
Monday, 23 February 2015
I came into the "American Horror Story" series late with season 4. For those who do not know, the series was created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. Each season is a self-contained mini-series of 13 episodes. Just when I had written off the horror genre with only a handful or so films made since 2000 that could be considered classics, this type of work shines through. However, I wonder if this has little to do with horror and more to do with the fact that television is finally surpassing the feature film experience in terms of overall quality. "Freak Show" is an unashamed love letter to Tod Browning's "Freaks" and Herk Harvey's "Carnival of Souls." However, there is more to it than a simple homage. From the wonderfully eerie stop motion opening credits that fuse a twisted view of a child's clockwork world with inspiration drawn from physical anomalies through to its surprisingly heart-warming finale, "Freak Show" gives the impression that it will make no compromises. This is probably a very naive thing for me to say, but I see a production that indulges with genuine affection for its audience. It seems not to fear being surreal, humorous at the same time as being soap operatic with its plot. Sometimes the story stays within the boundaries of realistic horror and at other times, we get supernatural curses and conjoined twins using telepathy. Likewise, the gory special effects shift between painfully realistic depictions of violence to Kill Bill splatterphunk. The horror is post-torture porn in that it steers away from leering extended depictions of horror, only to shock you later. This same technique is used for the deaths of certain cast members, which it does well to generate sympathy for, narrowly have them escape a grisly fate only to do later anyway without losing the shock value.