“American Horror Story: Asylum” aired its gripping season finale on Jan. 23. Since then, AHS fans have loudly and proudly been expressing their thoughts about the sophomore season’s final installment via various social media sites, including the AHS Tumblr blog, AHS Confessions. Some comments posted on the blog yesterday, Jan. 24, offer praise for AHS: Asylum’s central character, Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) and others offer sympathy for Jude (Jessica Lange).
This unique and interesting blog features fans’ comments about the show over specifically matched screen captures. The blog owner has once again, graciously shared some posts in the attached slideshow.
Throughout the “Asylum” ride, fans and critics alike have compared its exploration of madness and the vastly dark characters therein to AHS season one’s tale of the troubled Harmon family and the lost souls forever trapped within the haunted house they come to inhabit.
Opinions are split. Some people like season one better, some prefer season two. Some people like both seasons, equally well. That’s the beauty of doing an anthology style series, with a different story, setting and characters each time. AHS can appeal to a variety of fans under the larger umbrella of the horror genre.
In fact, many comments posted today, Jan. 25, on “American Horror Story’s” Official Facebook page, offer “Asylum” praise from fans who weren’t initially sure how this season was going to stack up against last year’s multiple Emmy nominated season.
AHS co-creator Ryan Murphy addressed the fans’ reactions in a Jan. 24 interview with “EW.” He said:
“I think this show could do now 10 years and I’d be interested in doing it that long and I like that every year will be a completely different tone and message and visual look. A lot of people loved season one and didn’t love season two as much. A lot of people who loved season two didn’t like the lightness of season one. I think it’s an interesting show for fans too and I like that about it.”
If we had to describe “AHS: Asylum” in just a single word, it would have to be “dark.”
Everything, from the visual aesthetics inside Briarcliff Manor, to Dr. Arden’s (James Cromwell) crude experiments on Shelley (Chloe Sevigny) and the Raspers, to Sister Mary Eunice’s (Lily Rabe) soul being possessed by Satan, to Lana’s unspeakable torture during electroshock therapy, then aversion therapy, then being raped by a serial killer and carrying his child – it’s all so bleak, and black, and dark.
In this sense, “American Horror Story” truly embodies horror. Horror is not fun and fanciful. Horror, by definition, is “painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay.” Light offers hope. Darkness fosters fear.
Ryan Murphy and company are not afraid to push the horror envelope In “American Horror Story.” “Asylum” boldly tackles broad, real-life horror subjects like the mistreatment of mental patients, unspeakable conditions within mental institutions, corruption, greed and scandal within the Catholic church, the inappropriate branding of homosexuality as mental illness in the 60s, the horrific acts of Nazis, mental illness born from childhood trauma, demon possession – the list goes on.
Conversely, season one focused on the horrors experienced by generations of families who all lived in one house which was often referred to as a sort of gateway to hell or evil itself– aka “Murder House.”
Although both seasons have a distinct cinematic quality, “Asylum” takes the edge, here. The overall story makes more of a sweeping social commentary and the cinematography reflects this on a grander scale.
The FX makeup (under the guiding hand of Oscar winning FX makeup artist/designer Christien Tinsley) is astounding. The Bloody Face mask alone arguably gives us one of the scariest villains on television. The mere sight of it, in fact, gives cause to sleep with the lights on.
Briarcliff and all the inmates are just so creepy and this world is drawn so painstakingly real. The intricate sets, the detailed costumes, the soundtrack (Dominique to drive us mad!) – everything fits so seamlessly together to draw us into the dark and dank surroundings and we feel the utter terror and despair these characters feel.
Fans root for various characters for different and sometimes surprising reasons. In season one, for instance, fans loved Tate Langdon, despite the fact that he’s a sociopathic killer and a rapist. Credit, in large part for this, was Evan Peters’ breakout portrayal. Similarly for “Asylum,” one AHS Confession follower admits that despite his horrible crimes, they find Dr. Thredson sexy. (Shiver, shiver – and not in a good way!)
Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson leave indelible impressions this season as they take us on Sister Jude and Lana’s fiercely intertwined journey to hell and back. These two marvelous actresses lead the ensemble of incredible, amazing actors with such bold skill and fearless, raw emotion.
Jude and Lana endure so much horror, on so many different levels. Lange and Paulson stretch themselves into so many different physical and emotional places. Both of these women deserve Emmy nominations for their performances.
The entire cast, every player, is superb; from the amount of heart and courage Evan Peters shows as mild, free-spirited Kit, to Lily Rabe’s amazing personification of the devil in Mary Eunice, to James Cromwell’s terrifying interpretation of the vile, deranged Dr. Arden, to the kind of wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes).
Zachary Quinto and Dylan McDermott are both revelations in their tandem portrayals of one of the most frightening serial killers we’ve ever seen – Bloody Face. Quinto may have the frightening edge, slightly, because Thredson is outwardly charming and yet, so inwardly evil. We are initially drawn to his calm manner, then shocked by the terror he delivers. Johnny, on the other hand, is just so raw and gritty all around. We pretty much see him and instantly want to run the other way!
Thredson and Johnny are probably the farthest from the actors’ season one roles, Chad and Ben Harmon, as they could possibly be. Quinto and McDermott are both lost to us, as actors. In these roles and behind that mask they personify evil and frighten us to the core. If a standing “o” for psychopathic monsters is ever in the slightest sense appropriate, we must rise to our feet for Zachary Quinto and Dylan McDermott.
Grace and Alma both add a haunting, mysterious and romantic element to the story and Lizzie Brochere and Britne Oldford are perfectly cast. Naomi Grossman brings an eccentric, memorable flair with her portrayal of Pepper and she’s incredibly fun once she returns from the aliens and puts Arden in his place.
For everything “Asylum” gives us this season, we probably won’t ever forget the final, intense and in many ways beautiful episode, in which Kit offers Jude salvation and forgiveness, Jude finally rests at peace and Lana confronts Johnny and shoots him so all of the madness truly ends.
The fans have spoken, they are ready for more and some of them are already counting the days until “American Horror Story:_______” (waiting to fill in the subtitle blank) season three, begins.
We know Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, and season one’s Taissa Farmiga are slated to return. We also know the story will have a Romeo and Juliet/Violet and Tate style love element.
The wishlists for more returning cast members (Dylan McDermott, please, inserted here!) and theories for next season’s subject matter are jamming the social media airwaves as we go to print …