updated 10/16/2012 AT 11:00 AM ET
•originally published 10/17/2012 AT 11:10 PM ET
American Horror Story is back, and it’s bolder and bloodier than ever before.
But does it live up to the dark and spooky season 1? It’s probably too early to tell, but this much is certain: I turned on every light in my apartment after watching the season premiere. Read on for more.
The hit FX series known for its sex appeal and smarts delivered on both fronts, but where last season quietly crept into your psyche, this one jumps out from your closet and attacks you head on. After meeting Bloody Face and Co. for the first time, here’s what’s keeping us up tonight:
1. Terrible things happen at this Asylum
As a modern day newlywed couple (Adam Levine and Jenna Dewan-Tatum) find out, Briarcliff – a tuberculosis ward-turned-church-run asylum – is no place to hang out. The honeymoon ends gruesomely for these horror buffs, but for the rest of us, the truly scary stuff comes when the show flashes back to 1964.
It’s a brand new plot this season, and two standouts from last year – Jessica Lange and Evan Peters – seamlessly transform into new, intensely watchable characters. Lange plays a twisted nun with some demented ideas and Peters is now Kit Walker, also known as the accused serial killer Bloody Face. He and the other residents at Briarcliff are treated like animals and the fight scene among them is sharply disturbing. The same can be said the fate of Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), a reporter nosing around the asylum who wakes up in a sickening, claustrophobic predicament at the mercy of Lange’s chilling Sister Jude.
2. More questions than answers
Like the thing in the basement the first time around, a mysterious monster pervades this season of American Horror Story. Lily Rabe as Sister Mary Eunice does a great job of selling whatever we can’t yet see in the woods. Elsewhere at Briarcliff, four patients have died, and the show will surely tease out the reasons why. But what on earth happened in Kit Walker’s house before he was accused of murder? The scene had the makings of an alien invasion – say it ain’t so! AHS succeeds with the supernatural, but a science fiction slant? That’s scary for a whole different reason. Here’s hoping that takeover will prove to be more Poltergeist than Alien.
3. An Homage to Texas Chainsaw Massacre?
Bloody Face is one scary dude, no two ways about it. He’s got a top-notch makeup job reminiscent of the creepiest big screen killers. But is he too familiar? The episode’s references to several quintessential scary movies were impossible to ignore. Bloody Face’s mask of human flesh was a most obvious nod to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Leatherface. And the screeching, startling flashbulb sound effects in Kit’s scenes mimicked those used in the 1974 horror classic (as well as the 2003 remake). In a separate reference, when Winters walks through the men’s ward with Sister Mary Eunice, we may as well be in Hannibal Lecter’s lockup in Silence of the Lambs. There are hints of A Clockwork Orange and 1932’s Freaks in the episode too, and the opening sequence features an ode to Linda Blair with the nightgown-clad girl crab-walking on the stairs. Those references are fun, but the Texas Chainsaw allusion is so unapologetic that you can’t help but wonder why the creators were so brazen about it. Is there some connection to be revealed? No way could a show this inventive blatantly rip off such an iconic big screen killers … right?
Oh, Horror Story, how you toy with us. Tell us your thought and fears in the comments below.
American Horror Story airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.