American Horror Story: Asylum

It’s been over three months since I reviewed the first season of American Horror Story (Murder House), so I feel like it’s about time I let you know my thoughts on the second season, American Horror Story: Asylum.
It’s been a couple of months since I had actually watched this series, and to be honest, I didn’t plan to review it. Not because it was bad or I hated it, but instead because I enjoyed it so much and binge-watched it in the space of a few days. As a result my review notes only consisted of three words “no like ‘aliens’”, which is not very helpful. So instead of using those notes for this review, I will be using a mixture of my memory and what I’ve re-watched, as at least that way I can point out the either really good, or shockingly awful, parts that stuck with me.
Okay, the first thing that took me by surprise when I started watching Asylum, was the fact that it had pretty much the same main casting as Murder House. Apparently everyone but me knew this, but with each series, the casting stays similar, and just the story, characters and setting changed. As a result, I kept a very close eye on characterisation, watching each recognisable actor/actress closely to see whether their talent can pull this off…and I must admit that they did not disappoint. Particularly Evan Peters, Jessica Lange and Lily Rabe.
Not only did these three completely change characters and still give realistic portrayals, each of them also underwent complete physical changes. As a result, any thought of their previous characters were completely shunned from my mind, and instead, I was captivated in only this story.
 

 















On top of this, Sarah Paulson gave a fantastic performance as Lana, a young journalist whose snooping into the secrets of the asylum cause her to be hospitalised. Usually, when a character is desperate to find escape, their original worries, traits and details get lost in a performance, but Paulson manage to maintain this character throughout, no matter what her character faces. (Side note, after writing this, I realised that she too was in murder house, and I had just completely forgotten. None the less, what I said still stands.)
Story-wise, I absolutely adored this concept. Due to my psychotic brain, I already have an interest the mystery and horror that went on in the old fashion mental asylums, so for me, this series was already ideal. Every aspect, bar one, of the plot was interesting and made me want to continue watching. Also, unlike Murder House, the ending to this was superb and seemed to be less of a ‘cop-out’. There were several ways it could have ended which would have let this season down, but luckily, it ended in a way to finish it off well. It’s also worth noting that there are no jump scares within this series, and instead, it is the harrowing ideas and concepts which add to the story’s horror. This is something that I though was very clever, and heavily admired.
The main problems I had with this series though, did occur during the first couple of episodes. Not only were there a couple of time jumps that I found complicated to get my head, there was also a concept of ‘aliens’ introduced. Even after finishing this series, I still don’t fully understand what it was, and after the first episode, the concept seems to be ignored for a while. When it’s mentioned again, there is no form of explanation given, and to me, the whole idea of it just didn’t fit in with the rest of the plot.
On top of this, some scenes were slightly pointless, and I felt as though they just confused the plot instead of complimenting it. It seems like the producers are sometimes so focused on the time length for each episode, they’re willing to add in some pointless scenes, and not care if it dampens the quality. On a positive note though, I felt as though it happened less in this series that it did in murder house, and I also felt as though the edits had improved.

Overall, I would recommend this series to any horror lover, even if they hadn’t watched Murder House. Although some of the small references to the previous story would be missed, the quality will not be faltered, and I definitely feel as though this season is the stronger of the two.

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